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   Cruise Travel - Cruise News

Cruise Club is a free service, and when you join, you will begin receiving weekly updates including the latest cruise news and cruise specialsWelcome to this week's edition of Cruise News, the best place on the Web to find up-to-date information about cruises. To automatically receive Cruise News via email each week, join our Cruise Club.

For up to the minute news, stop by Cruise Talk anytime to post a message or find out what your fellow passengers and industry insiders are saying about a particular ship, cruise line or destination.


Cruise News - June 29, 2015

Don't forget to check out CruisePage.com, the Internet's largest cruise database. With over 11,000 cruise itineraries and over 300 ship profiles, CruisePage.com is the perfect tool to help you find and book the perfect cruise.

Celestyal Crystal Collides with Tanker
Celestyal Cruises announced that on Saturday June 27th 2015 and at around 1:28 am local time, the Maltese flagged MV Celestyal Crystal had a collision with the Marshall Islands flagged tanker STI PIMLICO.

Celestyal Crystal Collides with TankerNone of the 852 passengers and 382 crew members were reported to have been injured and there were no injuries reported from the crew of the tanker. Celestyal Crystal has reportedly suffered some structural damage to the bow area but the extent of that damage was not clear pending an inspection from its class surveyor.

According to the cruise line, the damage is significant enough that it must be repaired before the ship can resume cruising. The remainder of he current cruise has been cancelled and passengers were given the option to continue their vacation with a two-night hotel stay in Istanbul, plus free shore excursions or they could choose between a free transfer home, or joining another ship from the company.

Passengers will also receive a full refund and the offer of a complimentary cruise, valid until the end of 2016

Silversea Cruises Announces New Ship
Silversea Cruises is happy to announce their new flagship, the Silver Muse, to be delivered in the spring of 2017. The new ultra-luxury ship is being built by Fincantieri and at 40,000 grt accommodates 596 guests, representing an exciting evolution of the Silver Spirit that will redefine ultra-luxury ocean travel, enhancing the small-ship intimacy and spacious all-suite accommodations that are the hallmarks of the Silversea experience.

Silversea Cruises Announces New ShipThe addition of the Silver Muse will expand Silversea's fleet to nine ships, and will once again significantly raise the bar in the ultra-luxury cruise market with a wealth of enhancements to the onboard experience, while satisfying the uncompromising requirements for comfort, service, and quality of the world's most discerning travelers.

"We have always had a special relationship with Fincantieri, since my father ordered from them the first cruise vessels for Sitmar Cruises in 1987," said Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, chairman of Silversea. "Both companies have a clear understanding of what today's affluent traveler seeks, and each approaches the market with originality, creativity, and quality. The management team led by Giuseppe Bono has been exceptional in managing Silversea's project."

According to Enzo Visone, Silversea's CEO, "With enhanced design specifications and enriched content, the Silver Muse will continue to build on the sophistication, innovative style and ground-breaking concepts for which Silversea ships are renowned. This ship contributes to our ambitious growth plans that will ensure our continued leadership in ultra-luxury cruising."

"We're very pleased to once again partner with Silversea," commented Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. "Silversea has shown remarkable dynamism and ability to achieve important results in this market. This project offers us the opportunity to develop creative solutions and set new standards for shipbuilding in the ultra-luxury segment, a segment in which Fincantieri has won every new order on the market in the past year."

Additional details and specifications on the new ship will be announced in the near future.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of Second Ship
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced its second ship—the 930-passenger Viking Sea—was "floated out," marking a major construction milestone and the first time that the new ship touches water. The traditional ceremony took place yesterday, June 25, at Fincantieri's Ancona shipyard—little more than a month after the new ocean line christened its first ship, Viking Star, in Bergen, Norway. Viking Sea is set to launch in early 2016; the company's third ship on order, Viking Sky®, is also currently under construction in Ancona and will debut in 2017. As a response to strong demand for Viking's immersive itineraries, all three ships will sail popular routes in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of Second Ship"The day that a new ship first touches water is always a special day, and today is indeed a proud one for our Viking family," said Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Cruises. "Having just celebrated the launch of our first ocean cruise ship, we are pleased at the positive reviews she is receiving from our guests and travel industry partners. We have no doubt that her sister ship, Viking Sea, will be met with the same reception upon her debut next spring."

In addition to the float out of Viking Sea, the company also announced that Karine Hagen, Viking's senior vice president of product and daughter of Torstein Hagen, will be godmother to Viking Sea and will officially "name" the ship during the christening ceremony in early 2016. Widely recognized as the face of the brand in Viking's television ads and online cultural enrichment videos, Karine is responsible for infusing the company's itineraries with extraordinary experiences. She is also the author of the children's books, "The World of Finse" (www.finse.me), an educational series that showcases the adventures of Karine's yellow Labrador, Finse, set largely along the global destinations and routes of Viking's cruise itineraries.

"Viking Sea is a magnificent ship, and I am very honored to be her godmother," Karine said at the ceremony. "It has been a great pleasure to meet so many of the Fincantieri Ancona shipyard staff today, and share the pride in their work."

A float out ceremony is significant because it denotes a ship moving into its final stage of construction. Viking Sea's float out began at approximately 10:30 a.m. local time, with the maritime tradition of welding coins under the ship mast. Karine welded Norwegian commemorative coins representing four generations of birth years in her family: 1911 (grandmother Ragnhild, after whom the onboard restaurant Mamsen's is named); 1943 (father Torstein, Viking's chairman); 1970 (Karine's own birth year) and 2012 (Karine's Labrador, Finse, who was also present at the ceremony). Karine then cut a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship's building dock. Following a two-day process that will set Viking Sea afloat, she will then be moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out.

HAL Breaks Ground on New Base Camp Complex at Denali National Park
Holland America Line has broken ground on a new “Base Camp” complex at the company’s McKinley Chalet Resort near the entrance to Alaska’s Denali National Park. Expected to be complete for the 2016 Alaska cruise season, Base Camp is part of Holland America Line’s ongoing enhancement program at the property that also includes room updates, upgrades to soft goods and hotel decor and additional modifications.

HAL Breaks Ground on New Base Camp Complex at Denali National ParkThe McKinley Chalet Resort provides accommodations for guests on Holland America Line’s Land+Sea Journeys that combine an Alaska cruise with an overland tour to Denali National Park and beyond. Base Camp will be centrally located between the main part of the property, containing the reception hall, dining facilities and guest rooms, and the riverfront guest rooms that provide stunning views of the Nenana River.

“Our McKinley Chalet Resort is the premier destination hotel in Alaska, and the addition of Base Camp to this already-spectacular property will make the guest experience all the more memorable and enriching,” said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line’s president. “Base Camp enables us to showcase Alaska and Denali National Park on a whole new level by bringing even more of the local history to our guests through art, dining and music.”

Base Camp will serve as a new gathering area to relax, shop, dine and enjoy music and entertainment. The largest building in the complex will be the grand 7,800-square-foot restaurant reaching two stories high to showcase views of the neighboring mountains for dining guests. Those wanting to quench their thirst or listen to live music can visit the Gold Nugget Saloon, home to the “Music of Denali Dinner Theater” that becomes a bar and music venue after the show.

At the center of Base Camp is an amphitheater with a covered performance stage and a semicircle of bench seating for guests to enjoy a variety of local shows, ranger talks and demonstrations.

The new location also will feature cozy fire pits to gather around on cool Alaska evenings; outdoor seating for guests who wish to enjoy the scenery; three retail shops offering local goods; and an artist-in-residence cabin where Alaska native and local artists will display and discuss their works.

Walking paths in and around Base Camp show off the property’s mountainous landscapes and beautiful setting nestled just across the Nenana River from Denali National Park.

Alaska-based companies heading up the McKinley Chalet Resort’s enhancement project include general contractor Dawson Construction and Stantec, which is providing engineering services. Additional firms involved are lead and landscape architect The Portico Group, restaurant architect Heliotrope Architects, structural engineering company Michael Leonard Associates and project manager Costigan Integrated, all of Seattle, Wash.

Spanning nearly 60 acres, the McKinley Chalet Resort currently features 478 rooms, fine and casual dining, an on-site dinner theater, on-site raft departures and walking trails along the Nenana River.

Construction Milestone of Carnival Vista Commemorated With Traditional Maritime Coin Ceremony
Construction Milestone of Carnival Vista Commemorated With Traditional Maritime Coin CeremonyIn a time-honored maritime tradition, a ceremony was held earlier today aboard Carnival Vista at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, during which a commemorative coin was welded to the ship’s mast to mark a significant construction milestone.

The 133,500-ton Carnival Vista – the line’s newest, largest and most innovative ship – is set to debut in Europe May 1, 2016.

The coin ceremony – which dates back to the ancient Romans who believed that attaching coins to a ship provided divine protection – signifies the successful completion of Carnival Vista’s exterior outfitting.

It is a longstanding tradition to select a godmother – or “madrina” – to preside over the ceremony. In this case, however, Carnival selected a “godchild” – six-year-old Kye Heald, the daughter of the company’s Senior Cruise Director and Brand Ambassador John Heald, who handled her duties admirably.

With just 11 months until Carnival Vista’s maiden voyage, work continues on the ship’s unique on-board innovations which include the first IMAX Theater on a cruise ship, a suspended cycling experience called SkyRide, the line’s first on-board brewery, and Carnival’s first inner-tube raft slide, the 455-foot-long Kaleid-o-Slide.

Seven HAL Ships to Sail 98 Caribbean Departures Roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa in 2015-16
With longer itineraries and a unique mid-size ship experience, Holland America Line's 2015-16 Caribbean season features a diverse range of options up to 21 days that include not-to-be-missed calls and ports not regularly found on typical Caribbean cruises.

Seven of the line's premium ships will explore the entire region on cruises that sail roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., while ms Veendam returns to the Caribbean in January 2016 to take over the roundtrip Tampa, Fla., departures.

even HAL Ships to Sail 98 Caribbean Departures Roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale and Tampa"Holland America Line provides the most port intensive and exclusive experience in the Caribbean, with a breadth of itinerary options to highlight the diversity of the region to our guests," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "The Caribbean is a popular destination because it's a relaxing, tropical paradise that's accessible to so many travelers, and by offering a wide range of ships and itineraries, we're able to offer a dream vacation at a great value."

From October 2015 through April 2016, ms Eurodam, ms Maasdam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Oosterdam, ms Veendam, ms Westerdam, ms Prinsendam and ms Zuiderdam sail a total of 98 seven-, 10-, 11-, 12- and 14-day cruises that can be combined into longer Collectors' Voyages ranging from 14 to 21 days. The itineraries span the Caribbean on eastern, western and southern routes, as well as a partial transit of the Panama Canal.

All Fort Lauderdale itineraries feature a call at Half Moon Cay, the line's award-winning private Bahamian island known for its pristine beaches, exciting shore excursions, exclusive beach cabanas and child-friendly activities.

Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale Itineraries - During the season, Eurodam and Nieuw Amsterdam will sail a series of seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries that can be combined to form 14-day Collectors' Voyages spanning both regions. Westerdam maintains a weekly schedule of seven-day eastern Caribbean cruises, while Maasdam sails seven- and 10-day eastern routes, as well as longer 11-day southern itineraries. Oosterdam also features 10- and 11-day southern Caribbean cruises ideal for guests looking for a longer vacation.

The Nieuw Amsterdam will also feature a new seven-day Tropical Caribbean itinerary in 2016 that calls on maiden port Amber Cove, Carnival Corporation's new $85 million cruise center in the Dominican Republic. Located near the historic town of Puerto Plata, Amber Cover will provide access to a purpose-built facility with a welcome center, craft marketplace, eateries, a swimming pool and transportation hub for access to inland shore tours for a wide variety of interests.

In addition to the 14-day Collectors' Voyages, other itineraries can be combined to form a diverse range of options, including a 21-day southern cruise on Oosterdam, a 21-day southern and eastern option on Maasdam and a 17-day nonrepeating double-eastern route, also on Maasdam.

Partial Panama Canal Transits - Guests looking to explore the Panama Canal without going through to the West Coast can embark on a convenient roundtrip Fort Lauderdale partial transit aboard Zuiderdam. The ship makes its way to Gatun Lake and spends the day leisurely scenic cruising. During the 10- and 11-day departures the ship also visits several Caribbean ports.

Zuiderdam recently underwent an extensive drydock to add 25 new staterooms and enhance several public areas — including the dining room, Neptune Lounge, Canaletto restaurant, The Greenhouse Spa and Salon, and the Dive-In outdoor grill serving signature burgers — with new furniture, signage, carpet and design updates.

Roundtrip Tampa Itineraries - Beginning in January 2016, Veendam spends the Caribbean season cruising roundtrip from Tampa on seven-day western and 12- and 14-day southern itineraries. The seven- and 14-day options can be combined to form a 21-day western/southern Caribbean Collectors' Voyage.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 48.90 - 2.04%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 76.90 - 5.51%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.65 - 3.28%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 55.4 - 2.41%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
On what mass market ship did former United States' President and Mrs. Carter cruise in the early 80's?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
When the France of 1962 was built for the French Line she cost $80 million. How much did Norwegian Cruise Line pay for the classic liner when they acquired her in 1979?

Answer - NCL bought the France for 18M USD in 1979. .
courtesy of Jonas Ekstam, Stockholm


Cruise News - June 22, 2015

Virgin Cruises to Launch in 2020
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, announced today that Virgin Cruises has selected PortMiami as the home port for its first cruise ship that will set sail in 2020. He also revealed Virgin Cruises has signed a binding Letter of Intent (LOI) with Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri for three new mid-size ships.

Virgin Cruises to Laounch in 2020Emerging through a cloud of iconic Virgin red smoke, Richard flew across Miami's Biscayne Bay via helicopter landing at Museum Park. Joined by Virgin Cruises' President and CEO Tom McAlpin, the two raised a Virgin Cruises flag to mark the cruise line's official arrival in Miami.

"This is a very exciting day for Virgin and travelers around the globe," said Richard. "We now have the right partners in place to build a world-class cruise line that will redefine the cruising experience for good. The Virgin Cruises approach will appeal to cruisers and non-cruisers alike, and we look forward to being in Miami and delivering an experience for people who want a new way to cruise."

Virgin Cruises' three new mid-size ships, of about 110,000 gross tons each, are slated for delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each ship will feature 1,430 guest cabins to host more than 2,800 guests. There also will be 1,150 crew on board to deliver the famed Virgin customer service. Embarking from PortMiami, Virgin Cruises plans to offer a range of seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with a Sunday sail date.

Virgin Cruises' binding LOI with Fincantieri is the first part of a two-step process with both companies committed to signing a contract in Q4 of 2015. The PortMiami agreement will be presented to the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners for their consideration and approval on June 30, 2015.

"Virgin is a customer built brand that listens carefully to what customers want and then works hard to deliver for them. We are committed to making waves in the cruise industry, and partnering with Fincantieri and PortMiami sets Virgin Cruises up to do just that," said Tom. "Today's announcement brings together important ingredients in our future success -- Miami's vibrant culture paired with the excellent Port infrastructure and Port team; and Fincantieri's expertise in prototyping, their creativity and understanding of our vision." Customers are invited to join the journey by visiting www.virgincruises.com to share their ideas on what the new cruise line can do to deliver an incredible experience at sea.

Virgin Group announced the formation of Virgin Cruises in a venture with Bain Capital, one of the world's leading private investment firms, in December 2014. Ryan Cotton, a Managing Director of Bain Capital, and Virgin Cruises board member said: "As lead shareholder, Bain Capital is excited to contribute our deep experience in building and growing great consumer brand companies. We believe there is a large, underserved market and strong growth prospects for a cruise line that delivers a superior experience for young-at-heart customers. We're very pleased to be partnering with the other important shareholders who share the same long term vision, and together we will provide a strong and broad support base for Virgin Cruises."

Virgin expects the experts at Fincantieri to bring these ideas to life. Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated: "I am honored our company is the selected partner for Virgin Cruises for such an important development in the cruise industry. I'm convinced this choice will contribute to the expansion of the cruising audience, especially considering the market segment still has wide growth margins. I am sure that together, our teams will create cutting edge ships that deliver a memorable guest experience."

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez noted, "With the largest cruise port in the world, Miami is an exciting city that offers companies and brands an excellent environment for business. We are delighted to be selected by Virgin Cruises as their home port and I can't wait to see their beautiful ships become part of Miami's spectacular skyline."

MSC Cruises And Fincantieri Cut the First Steel of MSC Seaside
MSC Cruises, the world's largest privately-owned global cruise line based in Geneva, and industry-leading shipyard Fincantieri, today cut the first steel for its next generation cruise ship named MSC Seaside.

In a ceremony held at Fincantieri's shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, MSC Cruises' Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago and Chief Executive Officer, Gianni Onorato, along with Fincantieri's Chief Executive Officer, Giuseppe Bono, launched the cutting of the first steel of MSC Seaside.

MSC Cruises And Fincantieri Cut the First Steel of MSC SeasideMSC Cruises' Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: "Today, we have witnessed the beginning of the work on an extraordinary new ship, MSC Seaside. It is a ship that revolutionizes industry standards, with an audacious and innovative design that brings guests and sea closer. It is also a testament to MSC Cruises' constant focus on innovation, as it is the fifth prototype ship we've designed."

Vago added, "Moreover, MSC Seaside represents a key pillar in a $5.8 billion, seven-ship investment plan that will double our capacity by 2022. It also steps up our investment in Italy and marks our return to a partnership with Fincantieri, which is something that makes me particularly proud. In fact, the building of the new Seaside ships as well as our other current project with Fincantieri – the $225 million Renaissance Program – are just one example of how a global organization like MSC, of which MSC Cruises is part, plays a key role in the Italian economy."

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, said: "This ceremony is unique for our Group and the Monfalcone shipyard. MSC Seaside will be the largest ship ever built in our shipyards, as well as the first we have ever constructed for MSC Cruises, whose strength - like ours - lies in being a truly global player in its industry. In MSC Seaside we have developed a brand new and highly ambitious project, and we look forward to building it. In two years we will celebrate with MSC Cruises a magnificent ship of which we will all be deeply proud."

MSC Seaside will be based year-round in Miami and will sail a wide range of highly appealing Caribbean itineraries. In addition, MSC Cruises' Miami-based cruise operations – which also includes the stunning MSC Divina, which will sail year-round from Miami starting November 2015 - will benefit from a newly renovated and expanded dedicated berth and terminal at PortMiami, signifying the company's strong ambitions in the North American market and commitment to providing guests with best-in-class service.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises CEO said: "For MSC Seaside, we chose a name that speaks of our vision for cruising in warm weather locations, the proximity with the sea, the joy of traveling, and discovering the wonders of sunny climates in a unique setting. We also call it 'the ship that follows the sun' and it will offer a truly remarkable experience for families, sun worshippers and adventurers."

"In addition, MSC Seaside will spearhead our campaign to expand our presence in North America. MSC Cruises has the unique opportunity to provide North American guests with an outstanding 'Mediterranean Style Cruise' experience, and guests from around the world a unique setting as it will sail to the most sought-after destinations in the Caribbean."

With a gross tonnage of 154,000 tons and the ability to accommodate up to 4,140 guests at double capacity, this new cruise ship will be the largest ever built by Fincantieri. The ship is set to arrive in Miami in December 2017, where she will also be christened, marking the first time an MSC Cruises' ship is christened in the US. Sales for cruises on MSC Seaside will start approximately two years ahead of its inaugural season, to reflect the high demand for this unique product.

Large, spacious and designed for the utmost comfort, MSC Seaside will benefit from a bold design and leading-edge technology while boasting a 360 degree seafront promenade. In addition, the ship will be characterized by the most interactive and originally-designed aqua park at sea with five water slides and attractions for all ages.

The ship will feature open modular connected staterooms – convertible staterooms that can accommodate up to 10 people – for families and groups, as well as luxury suites with private Jacuzzis and hanging gardens. MSC Seaside will also boast an enhanced MSC Yacht Club with private solarium, lounge and pool. The public spaces of the ship will feature breathtaking views with a two-deck glass-walled atrium and panoramic exterior elevators. This ship will set a new standard in cruise vacations by seamlessly blending wide family offerings with distinct elegance, with a wide choice of indoor/outdoor dining and bars and beautifully designed entertainment spaces.

MSC Seaside is the first of two identical ships on order from Fincantieri, the second of which will enter in to service in 2018. In addition, MSC Cruises has an option for an additional Seaside generation ship to be delivered by 2021.

MSC Seaside and her sister ship will set new standards for eco-friendliness, featuring Advanced Water Treatment (AWT) systems to remove pollutants and hazardous substances from waste water; garbage treatment plants for highly efficient solid waste management; scrubbers to reduce emissions; antifouling paints; and optimized hull lines, propellers and rudders to reduce drag and fuel consumption. In addition, the ships will have LED lighting, meaning lower energy demand and significantly lower fuel consumption, as well as advanced heat recovery plants to feed fresh water, laundry, swimming pools and hot water. The ship is fully compliant with the Safe Return to Port requirement.

Quantum of the Seas Makes Historic Entry into Hong Kong
Royal Caribbean International, the world's largest global cruise brand, is making new waves in Hong Kong's cruise travel history with the grand entrance of Quantum of the Seas. the most technologically advanced ship ever. The berthing of the largest cruise ship to enter Hong Kong was celebrated at a prestigious ceremony that was held on 20 June, and was attended by government officials, key industry stakeholders and loyal guests. The event also commemorated Royal Caribbean's one-year success in driving local cruise demand and standards by investing millions to launch a fully-owned and operated office and the home porting of Voyager of the Seas in Hong Kong.

Quantum of the Seas Makes Historic Entry into Hong KongThe berthing ceremony, which saw senior government dignitaries and key VIPs attending, was held onboard the 16-deck, 168,000 ton Quantum-class Quantum of the Seas. The attendees included the Honorable Gregory So Kam-leung, GBS, JP (Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development); Mr. Philip Yung Wai-hung, JP (Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development -- Commerce, Industry and Tourism); Miss Cathy Chu Man-ling, JP (Commissioner for Tourism); and Dr. Peter Lam (Chairman, Hong Kong Tourism Board). They were joined by the cruise line executives, Mr. Michael Bayley (President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International) and Mr. Dominic Paul (Senior Vice President, International).

"The arrival of Quantum of the Seas reinforces Royal Caribbean's commitment to the region's fast-growing cruise travel market. Cruising has been gaining popularity over the past few years, with Hong Kong region becoming a key strategic location for the Asia and China markets. Launching in April 2016, a fourth Quantum-class ship, Ovation of the Seas will join Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas in the China seas. The five ships will comprise the largest fleet deployment for any cruise brand in Greater China, home porting in four metropolitan Chinese cities -- Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Xiamen," said Mr. Bayley.

The ceremony was followed by an extensive tour that saw guests experiencing the unique Quantum-class innovations by Royal Caribbean International. These included the North Star aerial observatory, a glass capsule that takes guests more than 300 feet above the ocean for incomparable panoramic views; RipCord by iFLY skydiving and FlowRider surfing simulators; and SeaPlex, the multi-purpose sports facility offering a variety of activities, including a first for any cruise ship, bumper cars.

The grand arrival of Quantum of the Seas caps a successful first year for Royal Caribbean's operations in Hong Kong which has experienced a stellar increase in revenues. By the last quarter of 2015, it is expected that more than 35,000 Hong Kong guests will have boarded Royal Caribbean International cruises, of which more than 20,000 guests will have sailed on Voyager of the Seas, proving the decision to home port Voyager of the Seas in Hong Kong to be a strategic success.

Following strong demand, the 2016-17 vacation season is already being pre-booked. Among the varied destinations, Okinawa, Japan is the most popular choice for Hong Kong cruise travelers, with the average age range shifting to a younger demographic due to the strong emphasis on family packages and facilities catering to the younger generation.

The strong interest has prompted Royal Caribbean International to extend the home port season for Voyager of the Seas in Hong Kong to five months from May to October for next year.

"Moving Voyager of the Seas to home port in Hong Kong was a strategic move that has enhanced our presence in the very important Asia-Pacific region. It has made cruising more attractive and accessible to travelers in this region. Coupled with our world-renowned, friendly and engaging 'GOLD Anchor Service' and the strong support of all the top travel agencies in Hong Kong, we have established a strong business model in Hong Kong in the past year. With further initiatives and investments, we are looking to bring cruising into the mainstream travel market," said Mr. Bayley.

Royal Caribbean International will homeport Quantum of the Seas in Shanghai, offering regional cruise aficionados more choices to enjoy the impeccable service that has become the trademark of Royal Caribbean. She will return to Hong Kong briefly during the Christmas season this year after the homeport season of Voyager of the Seas.

Carnival Corp. Reports Significantly Higher Second Quarter Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) announced non-GAAP net income of $193 million, or $0.25 diluted EPS for the second quarter of 2015 compared to non-GAAP net income for the second quarter of 2014 of $73 million, or $0.09 diluted EPS. For the second quarter of 2015, U.S. GAAP net income, which included unrealized gains on fuel derivatives of $34 million and $7 million of restructuring expenses, was $222 million, or $0.29 diluted EPS. For the second quarter of 2014, U.S. GAAP net income was $98 million, or $0.13 diluted EPS. Revenues for the second quarter of 2015 were $3.6 billion, in line with the prior year.

Carnival Corp. Reports Significantly Higher Second Quarter EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and CEO Arnold Donald noted, "We more than doubled our second quarter earnings versus the comparable period a year ago and significantly exceeded our quarterly earnings guidance. Our initiatives to create demand and leverage our scale benefited both cruise ticket prices and onboard revenues contributing to 5% revenue yield improvement (constant currency) this quarter. While all of our North American brands enjoyed strong revenue yield improvement, our Carnival Cruise Line brand performed particularly well again this quarter. We thank our teams around the globe for their consistent delivery of exceptional guest experiences as well as our travel agent partners for their strong support, both of which are critical to our success."

Significant milestones during the second quarter included the launch of "fathom", the tenth brand in the Carnival Corporation family. Beginning in April 2016, "fathom" will introduce a new cruise category offering travelers authentic and meaningful experiences to targeted destinations, beginning with the Dominican Republic, to work alongside locals for transformational community impact.

Additionally, Costa began year-round service from Shanghai on Costa Serena in April and announced the deployment of Costa Fortuna to China in 2016 bringing the total to four Costa ships dedicated to Chinese guests. Princess Cruises also announced that it will expand its presence in Asia with a new ship scheduled to enter service in mid-2017 to be based in China year-round and custom-designed specifically for Chinese guests. Already the industry leader in passenger cruise days home ported in China, these developments will further the company's leading presence in this rapidly expanding market and attract new cruisers to the company's brands.

Also, earlier this month Carnival Corporation finalized a contract with Meyer Werft shipyard to build four next-generation ships that will feature the largest guest capacity in the world as well as the first cruise ships to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas, which is the world's cleanest-burning fossil fuel.

"These milestones further demonstrate our ongoing focus on effective strategic actions, technological development and innovation, laying the foundation for future growth and continued global expansion," said Donald.

Key metrics for the second quarter 2015 compared to the prior year were as follows:

• On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 4.1 percent for 2Q 2015, which was better than the company's guidance of up 2 to 3 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 3.5 percent in current dollars due to changes in currency exchange rates.

• Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 6.1 percent in constant dollars, primarily due to an increase in dry-dock days. Costs were better than March guidance, up 6.5 to 7.5 percent due to the timing of expenses between quarters. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars decreased 8.0 percent due to changes in fuel prices and currency exchange rates.

• Fuel prices declined 37 percent to $411 per metric ton for 2Q 2015 from $657 per metric ton in 2Q 2014 but were higher than March guidance of $402 per metric ton.

• Changes in currency exchange rates reduced earnings by $0.10 per share (constant currency).

2015 Outlook

During the last thirteen weeks, fleetwide booking volumes for the next three quarters were running well ahead of last year at slightly lower prices due to transactional currency impacts. At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the next three quarters are well ahead of the prior year at slightly lower prices again due to transactional currency impacts.

Donald noted, "Current strength in booking volumes clearly demonstrates strong consumer demand for our brands, leaving less inventory remaining for sale and building confidence in achieving significant revenue yield improvement this year. We are stepping up our marketing investment for the remainder of the year to further solidify our base of business for 2016 and drive continued yield improvement as we progress on our path toward double digit return on invested capital."

Carnival said that it continues to expect full year 2015 net revenue yields on a constant currency basis to be up 3 to 4 percent, which excludes translational and transactional currency impacts, compared to the prior year (up 2 to 3 percent on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year). Carnival said that it now expects full year 2015 net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD to be up approximately 3 percent compared to the prior year on a constant dollar basis, which is slightly higher than had been anticipated in the March guidance mainly due to increased investment in advertising.

Taking the above factors into consideration, Carnival said that it has increased its full year 2015 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share guidance to be in the range of $2.35 to $2.50, compared to 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings of $1.93 per share.

Third Quarter 2015 Outlook

Third quarter constant currency net revenue yields are expected to be up 3 to 4 percent compared to the prior year (up 2 to 3 percent in constant dollars). Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the third quarter are expected to be 2 to 3 percent higher on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year. Changes in fuel prices net of derivatives, and currency is expected to reduce third quarter earnings by $0.06 per share

Harmony of the Seas Reaches Construction Milestone
Harmony of the Seas Reaches Construction MilestoneSoon to be one of the world’s largest cruise ships, Harmony of the Seas’ exterior construction was completed this week at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. The newest member of Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis class of ships is now one step closer to full completion as her April 2016 debut approaches. With the exterior complete, Harmony of the Seas was floated out of her dry dock to begin the next phase of interior construction.

Harmony of the Seas will sail the Western Mediterranean from Barcelona, Spain during her inaugural season before arriving at her homeport of Fort Lauderdale in November 2016 where she will sail the Caribbean. Harmony of the Seas will feature seven distinct neighborhoods, 20 restaurants and 2,394 crew to serve her guests.

Guests onboard Harmony of the Seas will experience new amenities including three multi-story water slides, the Bionic Bar with robot bartenders, first introduced aboard Quantum of the Seas, and Voom, the fastest Internet connection at sea which gives guests the ability to instantly share their vacation through their social media channels.

Harmony of the Seas will span 16 decks, encompass 227,000 gross registered tons, carry 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,747 staterooms. The Oasis class is an architectural marvel touting Royal Caribbean’s exclusive seven neighborhood concept, including Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 49.92 + 5.70%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 81.38 + 6.18%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.74 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 56.77 + 3.78%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
When the France of 1962 was built for the French Line she cost $80 million. How much did Norwegian Cruise Line pay for the classic liner when they acquired her in 1979?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which cruise ship was intended to be named "Future Seas" before being transferred to another cruise line and entering service under a different name.

Answer - The Pullmantur Cruises' MS Empress was ordered by Admiral Cruise Lines and was intended to be called the Future Seas. But, when Royal Caribbean merged with Admiral in 1987, the Admiral brand was dissolved and the newbuild was incorporated into the Royal Caribbean fleet as Nordic Empress, later Empress of the Seas.
courtesy of Fernando Molina, Seville, Spain.


Cruise News - June 15, 2015

HAL's ms Noordam Rescues 40 Sightseers, Park Ranger in Glacier Bay, Alaska
HAL's ms Noordam Rescues 40 Sightseers, Park Ranger in Glacier Bay, AlaskaWhile in the vicinity of Jaw Point at Glacier Bay, Alaska, Holland America Line's ms Noordam assisted 41 persons on a disabled sightseeing boat Wednesday, June 10. Noordam responded to a call for aid at approximately 12:35 p.m. local time to assist the 79-foot sightseeing vessel Baranof Wind, which was experiencing mechanical troubles near Johns Hopkins Glacier.

The ship lowered a tender, which collected 40 tourists and one Glacier Bay National Park ranger and returned to Noordam.

"We are proud of the proficient response Captain van Donselaar and his team executed in assisting the passengers of Baranof Wind," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Our crewmembers are highly trained to respond when needed and we were fortunate to have been nearby to provide support."

Following lunch onboard Noordam, the sightseers were brought to Bartlett Cove, where the Baranof Wind excursion originated, at approximately 5:30 p.m. local time. Noordam then sailed for its next port of call, Ketchikan, Alaska, where it arrived on Thursday, June 11.

Noordam was in the middle of a seven-day Alaska cruise that sailed roundtrip from Vancouver, British Columbia, Saturday, June 6.

Norwegian Getaway Passenger Rescued After Going Overboard
A Norwegian Getaway passenger was rescued after reportedly falling or jumping overboard from the ship last Sunday night at 8:30 pm.

Norwegian Getaway Passenger Rescued After Going OverboardA crew member apparently saw the woman go overboard on the second night of the 7-Day Eastern Caribbean, Round-trip from Miami. The crew member threw a life ring towards the woman and notified the bridge as to what he had seen.

Once notified, the captain immediately turned the ship around to return to the location where the passenger was reported missing and a search initiated. A fast boat was lowered and was able to locate the woman and retrieve her from the sea. Once on board she was taken to the ship's medical center for treatment. She was taken off the ship at the next port of call, St. Thomas.

Carnival Corporation Finalizes Contract with Meyer Werft to Build Four Next-Generation Cruise Ships
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today announced it has signed a multi-billion dollar contract to build four next-generation cruise ships with the largest guest capacity in the world. The contract with Meyer Werft is part of larger previously announced strategic memo of understanding with leading shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Fincantieri S.p.A for nine new ship orders between 2019 and 2022.

Carnival Corporation Finalizes Contract with Meyer Werft to Build Four Next-Generation Cruise ShipsThe four new ships will also feature a revolutionary "green cruising" design. The ships will be the first in the cruise industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) -- the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel, representing a major environmental breakthrough.

The company said two of the ships will be manufactured for AIDA Cruises at Meyer Werft's shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Additional information about the ships, including which new ships will be added to each brand, will be made available at a later date.

Based on Carnival Corporation's innovative new ship design, each of the four next-generation ships will have a total capacity of 6,600 guests, feature more than 5,000 lower berths, exceed 180,000 gross tons and incorporate an extensive number of guest-friendly features. A major part of the innovative design involves making much more efficient use of the ship's spaces, creating an enhanced onboard experience for guests.

Pioneering a new era in the use of sustainable fuels, the four new ships will be the first in the cruise industry to use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and on the open sea. LNG will be stored onboard and used to generate 100 percent power at sea – producing another industry-first innovation for Carnival Corporation and its brands. Using LNG to power the ships in port and at sea will eliminate emissions of soot particles and sulfur oxides.

In addition to the two ships being built in Germany, Meyer Werft – which had the capacity to accommodate these four ship-building orders in its production schedule -- will also build the two additional ships detailed in today's announcement at its shipyard in Turku, Finland. Each new ship will be specifically designed and developed for the brand and the guests it will serve, underscoring the company's goal to consistently exceed guest expectations and provide first-time and repeat guests with the vacation experience of a lifetime on each and every cruise.

Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald said the contract is consistent with the company's measured capacity growth strategy to replace ships with less efficient capacity with newer, larger and more fuel efficient vessels over time.

"We are looking forward to executing on the next step in our fleet enhancement plan," said Donald. "At a cost per berth in line with our existing order book, these new ships will enhance the return profile of our fleet. These are exceptionally efficient ships with incredible cabins and public spaces featuring a design inspired by Micky Arison and Michael Thamm and developed by our new build teams." Arison is chairman of the board of directors for Carnival Corporation & plc and Thamm is CEO of the Costa Group, which includes AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises.

Added Donald: "It will be exciting to see our shipbuilding team bring these new ships to life. Every step of the way, our focus is on designing state-of-the-art ships that provide a vacation experience our guests will love, and we are putting all of our creative energy and resources into making sure we achieve that goal."

"These ships will expand our leadership position for the Costa Group, the market leader in all the major European markets," said Thamm. "These will be spectacular ships designed specifically for our guests who sail on our Costa Group brands."

Bernard Meyer, CEO of Meyer Werft, said: "In past years, we have built seven highly successful ships for AIDA Cruises. We are honored that Carnival Corporation has entrusted us with the implementation of this ambitious shipbuilding program, and we look forward to building these four magnificent ships."

The new ship order will allow the Costa Group to continue to build on its leadership position in the European cruise market – a market in which five out of 10 cruise guests in 2014 sailed onboard a Costa Group ship. The Costa Group – along with Princess Cruise Lines, also part of the Carnival Corporation family -- also occupies the leading position in the rapidly growing cruise market in China.

As part of each shipbuilding company's long-term strategic partnership with Carnival Corporation, additional new ship orders are being explored over the coming decade.

Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces Flexible Specialty Dining Packages
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today the introduction of new Specialty Dining Packages that allow guests the freedom to savor an array of tastes and unique experiences at the line's signature specialty restaurants and the flexibility to choose the number of nights they'd like to dine for one set price. Norwegian guests sailing fleetwide from August 7* and beyond can enjoy a Specialty Dining Package ranging from three days to the length of their entire cruise, with pricing starting at $59 per person** for a three-day package when purchased online prior to sailing, providing cruisers with an excellent value.

Norwegian Cruise Line Introduces Flexible Specialty Dining PackagesGuests who purchase a Norwegian Specialty Dining Package can opt to go medium-rare at Cagney's, Norwegian's signature steakhouse; make it al dente at a Norwegian's La Cucina Italian restaurant; enjoy an evening of fine Parisian dining at Le Bistro; and experience fun and fare at Teppanyaki, Norwegian's signature Japanese Hibachi restaurant.

With Freestyle Cruising and Norwegian's new Specialty Dining Packages, guests have the freedom to choose how, where and when they'd like to dine. Guests can tailor their taste buds to their cruising schedule and discover a different specialty restaurant each night or find a favorite and dine there a few nights during their vacation. Guests on a seven-day cruise can choose from packages ranging from three to seven nights, to make the most of their vacation experience and at a savings from the restaurant's individual cover charges.

Specialty Dining Packages are honored in all specialty steakhouses, Brazilian churrascarias, French, Japanese Hibachi and Italian restaurants. Norwegian guests who have purchased a Specialty Dining Package additionally have the flexibility to indulge in their heart's desire in select à la carte priced restaurants and entertainment-based restaurants for a small upcharge*** including:
• Ocean Blue (Norwegian Getaway/ Norwegian Breakaway) - $15
• Cirque Dreams (Norwegian Breakaway/Norwegian Epic)- $10 general seats/$15 premium seats/$35 VIP seating on Norwegian Breakaway
• The Illusionarium - $10 general seats/$15 premium seats
• For the Record: Dear John Hughes (Norwegian Escape)- $15
• Bayamo (Norwegian Escape)- $10
• Pincho Tapas Bar (Norwegian Escape)- $7
• The Raw Bar (Norwegian Getaway/ Norwegian Breakaway) - $7
• Sushi Bar (fleetwide)-$7

Specialty Dining Packages can be pre-purchased prior to sailing for additional savings or onboard during the first two days of the voyage; the dining packages are exclusively sold on the first day of the voyage on three-day itineraries only. Norwegian guests who pre-purchase a Specialty Dining Package prior to sailing can reserve their dining reservations online within 90 days of their sail date or go Freestyle and decide when and where to dine once onboard. Specialty Dining Packages are purchased individually and guests traveling in the same stateroom do not need to purchase packages as a group.

Carnival Breeze To Shift To Galveston, Carnival Magic To Port Canaveral in Spring 2016
Carnival Cruise Line today announced deployment changes designed to enhance its leadership position in two key homeports – Galveston and Port Canaveral, Fla., – while providing exciting “Fun Ship” itinerary choices in time for next summer’s cruise season.

Carnival Breeze To Shift To Galveston, Carnival Magic To Port Canaveral in Spring 2016Carnival Breeze will reposition to Galveston in May 2016 and Carnival Magic to Port Canaveral in April 2016, several months earlier than previously announced. Carnival Breeze will assume Carnival Magic’s year-round schedule of seven-day Galveston cruises beginning May 8, 2016. Carnival Magic will take over Carnival Valor’s current seven-day Port Canaveral cruise program April 23, 2016.

In turn, Carnival Splendor will assume Carnival Breeze’s six- and eight-day Caribbean schedule from Miami May 1, 2016. Carnival Valor will offer a new series of five- and eight-day departures from Port Canaveral beginning June 4, 2016 instead of October 2016 as previously announced.

“Galveston and Port Canaveral are two important markets for ‘Fun Ship’ cruising and these deployment changes provide our guests and travel agent partners with exciting new options featuring a variety of on-board innovations and visiting top destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Bahamas and Florida,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president.

Carnival Breeze to Launch Year-Round Service from Galveston in May 2016
Carnival Breeze will kick off its new Galveston-based cruise program May 8, 2016, departing every Sunday on three different week-long itineraries: western Caribbean cruises calling at either Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, or Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Cozumel, and a seven-day Bahamas/Florida route with stops in Nassau, Freeport, and Key West.

The line’s newest ship, Carnival Breeze offers such innovations as a multi-dimensional cinema experience called Thrill Theater, the Bonsai Sushi full-service Asian restaurant and WaterWorks, an aqua park that includes a 312-foot-long slide, a 150-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket, the DrainPipe funnel-style attraction and a splash area for younger cruisers.

Carnival Breeze, originally scheduled to reposition to Galveston in December 2016, replaces Carnival Magic which will reposition to Port Canaveral in April 2016.

Carnival Magic to Sail Seven-day Cruises from Port Canaveral in April 2016
Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral to operate seven-day Caribbean cruises beginning April 23, 2016.

Carnival Magic will offer two distinctly different week-long itineraries from the Space Coast – a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove. Prior to launching its new seven-day schedule from Port Canaveral, Carnival Magic will operate a special three-day cruise to Nassau April 20-23, 2016.

Carnival Magic was the first cruise ship to feature a suspended ropes course, part of an expansive open-air recreation area called SportSquare, as well as the Cucina del Capitano Italian family-style restaurant and the RedFrog Pub, a Caribbean-inspired watering hole serving the line’s private label draught brew, ThirstyFrog Red.

Carnival Magic’s previously announced schedule from Port Canaveral was scheduled to begin in December 2016.

Carnival Splendor to Offer Six- and Eight-Day Cruises from Miami in May 2016
Carnival Splendor will launch six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Miami May 1, 2016, departing alternating Saturdays and Sundays.

The schedule, which runs through December 2016, includes eight-day southern Caribbean cruises featuring Grand Turk, La Romana (Dominican Republic), Curaçao, and Aruba, along with eight-day eastern Caribbean departures visiting Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. Carnival Splendor will also offer a three-port, six-day option featuring Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Ocho Rios.

Carnival Splendor will offer a nine-day Carnival Journeys cruise round-trip from Miami departing May 26, 2016, and featuring an overnight call in King’s Wharf, Bermuda, as well as visits to Amber Cove (Dominican Republic) and Grand Turk. A number of special on-board activities and programming are planned, as well.

The 113,300-ton Carnival Splendor boasts on-board features like a 21,000-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa featuring a thalassotherapy pool and thermal suite, a retractable dome covering the mid-ship pool, and a classic American steakhouse serving prime steaks and other gourmet cuisine.

Carnival Valor to Offer Three- to Eight-day Cruises from Port Canaveral in May 2016
Carnival Valor will offer a new short cruise schedule from the Space Coast in May 2016 before launching year-round five- and eight-day departures in June 2016.

Three- to five-day sailings will take place throughout May and visit such popular ports as Grand Turk, Nassau, Freeport, and Amber Cove. The ship will also offer a one-time six-day cruise departing May 15 and featuring Nassau, Amber Cove and Grand Turk.

Carnival Valor’s year-round five- to eight-day voyages begin June 4, 2016. Five-day cruises will visit Nassau, Half Moon Cay and Freeport. Eight-day eastern Caribbean cruises will call at Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts and St. Maarten; while eight-day southern Caribbean sailings will include Curaçao or Bonaire, Aruba and Grand Turk.

Carnival Valor is currently based in Port Canaveral and scheduled to undergo an extensive dry dock in spring 2016 that will add a variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations.

Cunard Celebrates 175th Anniversary with Commemorative Events in Ports of Halifax, Boston and New York
On 4 July 2015, Cunard's Queen Mary 2 will embark on the capstone of Cunard's 175th worldwide anniversary celebrations with a commemorative Transatlantic Crossing departing from Liverpool, England, paying tribute to the original voyage made by the company's first flagship, Britannia, on 4 July 1840. This journey inaugurated the first scheduled mail and passenger service across the Atlantic and Cunard will be celebrating this historic milestone in three cities which hold a special place in the company's storied past: Halifax, Boston and New York.

Carnival Corporation Finalizes Contract with Meyer Werft to Build Four Next-Generation Cruise ShipsQueen Mary 2, Cunard's reigning flagship, will depart Southampton on 2 July, then call on Liverpool, the "spiritual home" of the company, amid fanfare and fireworks, and then sail onward to North America with celebratory onboard and commemorative shoreside events scheduled for each port of call.

"Cunard is honoured to be one of the few companies who can claim a 175-year history, and to celebrate this milestone and our enduring relationships with these cornerstone cities means so much to us," said Richard Meadows, president, Cunard, North America. "We look forward to honouring Sir Samuel Cunard in his birthplace of Halifax, to commemorate our heritage in Boston in what was the first American company headquarters, and to salute our U.S. homeport, New York in a festive and fitting fashion," he continued.

Halifax, 10 July - Halifax, Nova Scotia, the home of founder Sir Samuel Cunard, will be the first port to welcome Queen Mary 2 on 10 July.

• Cunard will mark the milestone occasion in a special outdoor ceremony, which will include local dignitaries, port officials and key members of the Halifax community. As a key component of the anniversary celebration ceremony, a public area of the future waterfront development will be named for Cunard. The ceremony will take place on the grounds of an upcoming mixed use development created by Southwest Properties and Streamliner Properties in collaboration with the Waterfront Development Corporation. Rhapsody Quintet, who are also members of Symphony Nova Scotia will perform during the event.

• Cunard has joined together with the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to create the first annual "Samuel Cunard Prize for Vision, Courage and Creativity," which will be awarded to James D. Irving, Canadian industrialist. This inaugural prize event will take place every year aboard Queen Mary 2 and recognize a different recipient who exemplifies the world-changing vision, courage and creativity shown by Samuel Cunard throughout his life. Re-opening of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic's Cunard exhibition, as well as the launch of a new Samuel Cunard retrospective exhibit, showcasing the company founder's impact on global business, transportation and world events.

• Queen Mary 2 will sail away with a festive evening departure, slated to include local navy cadets, with more details to be announced shortly.

Boston, 12 July - Early morning on 12 July, Queen Mary 2 will sail into Boston, Massachusetts, the company's first port of call in the U.S. and the home of its first North American headquarters.

• A special dedication ceremony to launch the newly renovated Cunard Building with the donation of the Servia ship model by Cunard. The model, built in 1881, is being brought over on Queen Mary 2 from the Science Museum in England and will be placed in the front entrance of the former North American Cunard headquarters at 120 State Street. Located in the Customs House District, the building is part of a redevelopment of the area and historically renovated by Highland Development and Morris Architects through the stewardship of the building's owner, Bill Mosakowsi, Public Consulting Group.

• 1:30 pm: Captain Kevin Oprey, Master of Queen Mary 2, will throw the ceremonial first pitch at the Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees game at Fenway Park.

• Evening: Fireworks will mark Queen Mary 2's evening departure as she sets off towards New York City for the final leg of her 175th Anniversary tour.

New York, 14 July - Although not a port of call in the original Crossing made by Britannia, New York has been Cunard's North American homeport for over a century.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.23 + 0.45%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 76.64 - 1.98%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.74 - 2.14%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.70 + 0.61%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which cruise ship was intended to be named "Future Seas" before being transferred to another cruise line and entering service under a different name.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which two 1930's ocean liners had seaplanes mounted between their funnels for the purpose of delivering the mail via air thirty-six hours before the ships docked?

Answer - The liners SS Bremen (1928) and SS Europa (both operated by Norddeutscher Lloyd of Bremen) had seaplanes to carry mail to land. The seaplane was launched from the ship several hours before arrival, landing at the seaplane base in Blexen. The catapult and planes were removed from both sister ships after a few years of service, because it was too expensive and complex.
courtesy of Fernando Molina, Seville, Spain.


Cruise News - June 8, 2015

Carnival Creates New Brand - fathom
Carnival Corporation & plc today launched a new brand called fathom™, defining a new travel category it is calling "social impact travel," that will offer consumers authentic, meaningful impact travel experiences to work alongside locals as they tackle community needs. What sets fathom apart is the long-term, systematic partnership approach with its partner countries paired with the unique business model that allows for sustained impact and lasting development. fathom's scale and global vision reach beyond what the world has ever seen.

The company's first destination will be the Dominican Republic, a country known for its spectacular beauty but also a country where the average household income is approximately $6,000 USD a year and more than two million Dominicans do not have access to piped water.

fathom will operate as a standalone brand, the 10th global brand in the Carnival Corporation family.

Carnival Creates New Brand - fathomBeginning in April 2016, fathom will embark on seven-day voyages from PortMiami aboard the MV Adonia, a 710-passenger vessel redeployed from Carnival Corporation's P&O Cruises (UK) for the start-up of the new operation. Depending on their passions, interests and skills, travelers will have the opportunity to choose from a range of social impact activities and experiences both onboard and onshore.

"fathom will cater to a growing market of consumers who want to have a positive impact on people's lives, and aren't always sure where to begin," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "We believe travel is a meaningful way to allow for personal growth while making purposeful and engaging contributions to the world. We are so pleased that fathom will give travelers a unique opportunity to work alongside local people as part of a larger scale effort that will demonstrably improve lives. Both our travelers and the local citizens will learn and benefit from the opportunity to serve together."

Donald brought in a non-traditional, social entrepreneur, Tara Russell, Founder and Chairman of Create Common Good (www.createcommongood.org), a food production social enterprise, to lead this effort. Russell will serve as President of fathom and as Global Impact Lead for Carnival Corporation. Russell established and led the team that has been working on the design and business model for fathom since late 2013.

"We created fathom to meet the real hunger in the world for purpose, while at the same time tackling profound social issues through a sustainable business model," said Russell. "We harness the assets and resources of the world's largest travel and leisure company and combine them with the talents and hearts of those working in social enterprises around the world.

"Travelers will work in partnership with proven, trusted local organizations on the ground to amplify their missions for far greater, sustained impact," Russell said. "Because fathom will bring hundreds of travelers to a destination on a regular basis, fathom can achieve focused and holistic, collaborative contributions in a broad region of the country – allowing fathom travelers to make a collective, transformative impact that they know will extend far beyond their involvement. They also will know they played an important role in ensuring the region flourishes. We are excited about making the Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic our first partner destination, and we are optimistic about taking all that is being built in and through fathom to other global destinations and to the broader Carnival corporate family."

According to Russell, the fathom team took an innovative design-thinking approach to deeply understanding both its travelers, as well as the needs identified by stakeholders across all parts of society in the Dominican Republic, and will continue to leverage the unique approach.

"fathom will mobilize, educate and equip up to 700 travelers on every trip allowing for thousands of impact activity days per week – and tens of thousands of travelers a year to communities of promise, providing unprecedented scale for impact," said Russell. "fathom has been built differently, having worked carefully to ensure any and all efforts fathom travelers engage with are authentically impactful, scalable and sustainable. fathom's scale allows the opportunity to continuously innovate in the social impact space, while achieving holistic, transformational societal contributions that will help a broad region flourish."

Based on extensive market research, fathom has identified a sizable and growing market of potential social impact travel consumers – approximately one million North Americans who are strongly predisposed, in addition to global travelers already pursuing service-oriented travel experiences worldwide – who will be interested in this type of travel offering.

In addition, the company believes fathom will attract a significant number of travelers who have never before cruised. According to research, nearly 40 percent of the individuals who will book a social impact trip on fathom might otherwise never have chosen to cruise.

According to Russell, fathom will attract people of all ages and from all walks of life, but especially North American, U.K. and Australian citizens ages 20 to 60 years old who are eager to discover their individual gifts, and unleash their personal passions and talents to improve the world. The company expects to be particularly popular among:

• Millennials – people in their 20s and 30s looking to make a difference in the world;

• Parents seeking a way to open their children's eyes to other parts of the world in a meaningful way (approximately half of travelers are expected to be families); and

• Adults 50+ years of age eager to find rewarding ways to help other people apart from writing a check.

"During the past 10 years, in countless conversations I have had with people eager to serve others and make meaningful societal contributions, there has been a common theme – people struggle to know where they fit in and often people have challenges finding trusted, easy ways to make a difference," said Russell. "fathom exists to address this desire and to create enduring, life-changing impact, both in the communities where fathom operates, and in the lives of the travelers who embark on one of our journeys, allowing for unique impact experiences before, during and after the trip."

The new brand selected the Puerto Plata region of the Dominican Republic as its first impact destination based on a number of factors: genuine needs, infrastructure to support social initiatives, enthusiasm for the fathom concept by locals at all layers of society including country officials, its location (proximity to Miami and Amber Cove, the new Dominican destination being launched by Carnival Corporation in October 2015), its innate beauty. The fathom team worked closely with local Dominicans, resident Dominican business and educational leaders, Dominican government officials and leading non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country to fully understand the societal needs and determine the best way for fathom to participate in addressing those needs.

With Carnival Corporation's new fathom brand, travelers will work alongside people in global communities in need. Planting cacao plants allows the cooperatives to increase their production, to help locals achieve economic independence.fathom has initially identified two lead impact partners in the Dominican Republic – Entrena and the Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo Integral, Inc. (IDDI). Both organizations have deep roots in the country, including long-established programs and strong social connections in the northern Dominican region. fathom travelers will work alongside these organizations across the northern region to help Entrena and IDDI programs achieve much greater impact. Because fathom will regularly transport hundreds of travelers to the country, the support will be significant and sustainable – fathom travelers will make long-lasting contributions to the community.

A portion of every ticket purchase price will go directly to fathom partner organizations to cover on-the-ground activities in the Dominican Republic, including supplies, travel, personnel to assist with the activities and funding to support the partner organizations' overall missions. This sustained partnership between fathom and its impact partners allows these organizations to have predictable revenue streams to even further amplify their missions.

"Having led the Dominican based non-profit IDDI, for more than 31 years, I have worked with a very large number of corporations ranging from energy, sugar, chocolate and cigar producers, as well as tourism and free-trade zone companies," said David Luther, founder and executive director of IDDI, a non-profit organization with the mission to help alleviate poverty in rural and urban areas of the Dominican Republic. "I have always insisted on a horizontal relationship based on a win-win partnership, but on many occasions it has taken a great deal of convincing on our part for these to understand the benefits to the private sector of improving the overall well-being of Dominican society.

"fathom and Carnival Corporation are without a doubt the exception. They are making a strategic bet on contributing to the development of the Dominican Republic incorporating this initiative into their business plan, which is to me a remarkable step for a corporation of their size. This is not just Corporate Social Responsibility, but a vision of bringing people together as a catalyst for change, be they passengers on a ship or members of low-income communities – very, very innovative. In this, fathom and Carnival Corporation are demonstrating they are willing and capable of creating experiences that transform lives."

"Entrena is excited about and committed to the fathom concept of impact travel for the north coast of the Dominican Republic," said John Seibel, founder and president, Entrena, an organization specializing in training, education, and social enterprise. "We believe this concept will enhance sustainable development efforts to foster widespread prosperity among these Dominican communities by improving lives, creating hope for the future, and providing profound and meaningful experiences for fathom and for all Carnival Corporation passengers."

The fathom journey is a carefully designed, holistic impact journey and will begin with one to two days at sea preparing hearts and minds for the on-the-ground experience, including a wide variety of fun and engaging impact-readiness experiences, ranging from an orientation to the Dominican Republic, conversational Spanish lessons, impact activity training, creative workshops, personal enrichment and much more.

fathom travelers may build their own schedules and will have the flexibility each day to choose from a variety of social impact and recreational activities. At launch, the company will offer a selection of fun, immersive, and meaningful activities focused on education, the environment, and economic development along with all the incredible experiences the Puerto Plata region innately has to offer.

Impact activities will vary in length from a few hours to multiple days. Depending on their passions and skills, travelers may spend up to three days on causes they care about, working alongside locals and fathom partner organizations on one or more projects suitable for a wide range of ages, levels of skill and amounts of physical activity. Sample activities may include:

• Economic Development: Help cultivate cacao plants and organic fertilizer at a nursery and assist a local women's cooperative in producing artisan chocolates. This activity is designed to produce high-quality plants to increase farmers' yields through sustainable practices and – importantly – create income opportunities for rural women. Over time, this activity will allow the cooperative to increase their workforce so the cooperative can achieve economic independence.

• Educational: Work side by side with Dominican school teachers in classrooms to teach English skills and help boost students' academic performance; and participate in adult-learning programs to teach small groups of local community members conversational English to help improve their ability to qualify for jobs that provide a higher level of income.

• Environmental: Provide hands-on support to craft and build water filters – using clay, a natural resource found locally – and deliver those filters to families throughout the community to provide healthy drinking water. With limited piped water supply, this will make a meaningful difference in the quality of people's lives throughout the region.

"Together we aim to help communities and travelers flourish by providing immersive, life-changing experiences for travelers and allowing our partner communities to prosper," said Russell.

When not participating in social impact activities, travelers will enjoy exploring the beauty of the region, experiencing the many Dominican beaches and sites of interest, or participating in any one of an array of different recreational activities available to the entire family of Carnival Corporation brands visiting Amber Cove and the Puerto Plata region.

The onboard experience will be customized to this unique travel market, including specialized, purposeful retail options and amenities, as well as geographically inspired menus, music, and additional onboard cultural immersion. While docked in the Dominican Republic, the fathom ship will serve as a comfortable, convenient home-base for travelers.

Semester at Sea Picks Up Former Deutschland
The Institute for Shipboard Education (ISE), parent organization to globally renowned study abroad program Semester at Sea, has secured a new shipboard campus—its sixth in the program’s storied 51-year history. The new ship, like its predecessors, will serve as a traveling home and campus that brings approximately 600 undergraduate students to the farthest reaches of the globe every semester, giving deeper meaning to education, experiential learning, and community.

Semester at Sea Picks Up Former DeutschlandThis August, the program’s new vessel will be renamed the World Odyssey for her role as the Semester at Sea campus. Currently named the Deutschland, she has been meticulously maintained since her construction in Germany in 1998 and will undergo routine dry-dock maintenance this summer. The World Odyssey meets the International Maritime Organization’s SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea), U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Public Health requirements, as well as all other statutory standards to operate throughout the world.

“The World Odyssey marks a new chapter for Semester at Sea—a chapter that will allow us to progress, but maintain our traditions,” said T. Kenn Gaither, ISE President and CEO. “We will continue to provide an invaluable experience to new students, who, like our 60,000 alumni, are eager to embrace the world around them, see with new eyes, and make an impact. The World Odyssey will help us educate a new generation of global citizens.”

The ship has a similar feel to a college or university with her architecture and design, and meets all SAS requirements including safety, program features, and efficiencies. Offering the necessary qualities of a Semester at Sea shipboard campus, some of the World Odyssey’s features include:


• Nine classrooms, each with state-of-the-art technology to support engaged learning;
• A library with built-in book stacks and computers with internet access;
• A reception desk area with around-the-clock crew presence as well as the Semester at Sea field program and administrative staff;
• A large union with upper and lower level seating that will accommodate all students, faculty, staff, and lifelong learners for community sessions;
• Fitness spaces including an indoor gym with large windows, free-weights, weight machines, and cardiovascular equipment; and a spacious sun deck for recreational activities;
• A deck nine alfresco grill and restaurant nearby the outdoor pool, providing a relaxed community dining area; and
• Approximately 600 program participant cabins, some exterior with windows, some interior without.

“The World Odyssey is well equipped to facilitate a vibrant living-learning community in the Semester at Sea tradition,” said Michael Zoll, Vice President of Student Life for ISE. “She will offer a rich new perspective into our commitment to global comparative education.”

In this campus transition, ISE will continue its critical 20-year partnership with maritime management company, V. Ships, which has provided the officers and crew to manage the program’s vessel, and remain integral to the voyage experience. The University of Virginia will also continue as academic sponsor not to extend beyond May 2016. The program’s next academic sponsor will be announced shortly.

In May 2014, the Institute and its European banks structured an agreement to facilitate the sale of the program’s previous ship, the MV Explorer, at the conclusion of the Spring 2015 Semester at Sea voyage. This agreement allowed ISE to gain a release and waiver of any and all financial obligations relative to the ship. The arrangement concluded in a formal transaction completed April 30, 2015, completely relieving ISE of any financial burdens related to the Explorer.

“In reverting to our former business model of leasing a ship and launching two semester voyages per year, ISE is on solid financial ground and in a position to prosper well into the future,” said ISE Chief Financial Officer Larry Grant.

The ship will embark on its first Semester at Sea voyage on September 13 in Southampton, England. The 100-day voyage will visit 13 cities in 11 countries, transit the Panama Canal, and conclude in San Diego, California.

“The World Odyssey symbolizes our program’s bright future,” said Gaither. “We have spent the last year carefully considering ships in the marketplace that would suit the very specific needs of Semester at Sea. The World Odyssey accommodates our program perfectly, and we are excited to embark on our first voyage with her this September.”

Celebrity Kicks Off Summer with Picnic Baskets for Hundreds of Park-goers Across the U.S.
Celebrity Kicks Off Summer with Picnic Baskets for Hundreds of Park-goers Across the U.S.Playing off the fact that it has half-acre lawns of real, growing grass on the top decks of its cruise ships, Celebrity Cruises surprised several unsuspecting people in New York City, Chicago, and the Bay Area, with a luxury trip of a lifetime when hundreds of butlers amazed park-goers across the nation. Each butler presented a packed, complimentary, luxe picnic basket to lucky recipients – and several excited park-goers also received tickets for a Celebrity cruise. The modern luxury cruise line launched the stunt to kick off the summer season as part of its "Grass is Greener" campaign, which began on Monday and highlights the ways in which Celebrity's upscale cruises are unmatched.

Anyone who missed today's action in these cities can enter for a chance to win one of five, seven-night Celebrity cruises for two to the Caribbean by visiting celebritycruises.com/sweeps through June 13, 2015.

Celebrity Cruises is the cruise brand that made vacationers and the travel industry rethink the impossible, when it introduced a half-acre of real grass to the top deck of its Solstice Class ships. Guests can sink their toes in and experience the great outdoors with jazz concerts at sea, gourmet picnics on the lawn or on their private veranda, and much more, when sailing on Celebrity's modern luxury ships. Summer is the perfect time to explore Europe or Alaska, or set sail for Bermuda.

Visit celebritycruises.com/grassisgreener for more information, and follow on social media by using #GrassIsGreener and following the cruise line on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.02 + 0.51%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 78.19 + 2.67%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.80 - 2.78%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.37 - 0.71%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which two 1930's ocean liners had seaplanes mounted between their funnels for the purpose of delivering the mail via air thirty-six hours before the ships docked?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
For safety and speed reasons, the SS United States, once the fastest ship afloat, was constructed almost entirely of aluminium and steel. In fact, it was said that there were only two items made of wood on board the entire ship. What were those two items?

Answer - The cutting boards (butcher's blocks) and the piano(s). They requested that a metal piano be made but the piano maker wouldn't do it.
courtesy of Andy Taylor


Cruise News - June 1, 2015

Seven HAL Ships to Sail Panama Canal in 2015-16
Six Holland America Line ships will sail 11 full transits of the Panama Canal and one ship will offer 14 itineraries that feature both the southern Caribbean and partial transits during fall 2015 through spring 2016.

Seven HAL Ships to Sail Panama Canal in 2015-16With cruises ranging from 10 to 22 days, Holland America Line provides guests more in-depth ways to experience the Panama Canal than any other cruise line. In the 2015-16 season, the combined full and partial transits will carry more than 44,500 guests through the lakes and locks of the man-made marvel.

"To witness the fascinating operation of the Panama Canal from the deck of a Holland America Line ship is the ultimate way to experience one of the great engineering wonders of the world," said Orlando Ashford, Holland America Line's president. "Our diverse itineraries bring travelers to all seven continents and to many of the world's most compelling marvels; and with 25 departures we offer more ways to experience the Panama Canal than any other line."

Go Between Oceans on a Full Panama Canal Transit - from September 2015 through May 2016, ms Amsterdam, ms Maasdam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Oosterdam, ms Veendam and ms Westerdam will make 11 transits between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from six departure cities. Guests can set sail from Boston, Mass.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; San Diego and San Francisco, Calif.; Seattle, Wash.; and Vancouver, British Columbia.

In addition to the Panama Canal transit, the 14- to 22-day cruises include a variety of port calls along the way, making each voyage all the more enriching. On the full transits the ships visit destinations in Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Caribbean, along with Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line's award-winning private Bahamian island.

Partial transits include the 'ABC' Islands - Besides the full transits, ms Zuiderdam will make 14 partial transits between November 2015 and April 2016. The 10- and 11-day "Panama Canal Sunfarer" itineraries include an exploration of the canal's Gatun Lake and a combination of southern Caribbean calls in Aruba, Bonaire, Columbia, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Grand Cayman, Panama and Half Moon Cay.

On each Panama Canal cruise, guests can enjoy the On Location enrichment program that brings local experiences onto the ships through lectures, presentations, cuisine and entertainment. Guests can learn to weave with palm fronds during Caribbean sea days; and while the ship is in the Panama Canal an expert historian recounts the history and drama of constructing the famous waterway. A Panamanian market and buffet on the Lido Deck is a highlight of the voyage, where guests can indulge in regional delicacies such as empanadas, arroz con pollo, ropa vieja and pastel de tres leches.

Azamara Cruises Announces Major Upgrades For Its Two Ships
Azamara Club Cruises, the boutique line delivering an up-market experience at sea with unparalleled destination immersion on land, announced today that its two ships – Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest – will undergo "major upgrades" while in dry dock in early 2016, reinvigorating the onboard guest experience.

Azamara Club Cruises Announces Major Upgrades For Its Two ShipsThe mid-size ships that accommodate up to 686 guests will be outfitted with new venues, public spaces and technologies to bring fresh services and amenities to guests. From bow to stern, there is no area on the line's ships that will be untouched. The upgrades include all staterooms and suites, dining, spa and entertainment. "We are best known for our Land Discoveries programs which have enabled us to boast an unprecedented number of repeat guest bookings as well as strong back to back voyage reservations. As we continue to evolve our destination immersive offerings, we also want to ensure our onboard experience is modernized to meet guests' every need," says Larry Pimentel, President and CEO of Azamara Club Cruises.

"We can't wait for our ships to come out of dry dock as these major upgrades are going to have an instant impact on our guests' experience. Each corner of the ships will have a new look and feel, setting a brighter, more contemporary ambiance, while the new venues will bring guests fresh experiences. We're also investing in new onboard innovations and have paid close attention to the smallest of details. We really are redefining our onboard experience in every way."

The Azamara Journey will enter dry dock in January 2016 in the Bahamas, and the Azamara Quest in April 2016 in Singapore.

Celebrity Unviels New "Grass is Greener" Ad Campaign
As vacationers crave outdoor luxury for their summer getaways, Celebrity Cruises has unveiled the "Grass is Greener," a campaign rooted in highlighting ways in which Celebrity's upscale cruises are unmatched. The campaign highlights the modern luxury brand's most iconic, compelling attributes. The most unique of these -- the Lawn Club, a half-acre of real grass -- is the backdrop for the message that everything is better with Celebrity. This month, guests can order picnic experiences to enjoy on their private verandas and indulge in special onboard events, including jazz concerts at the onboard Lawn Clubs and evening parties, with more to come. Celebrity also has brought back its most popular offer, "123go!," and president and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo is spreading the word on a cross-country tour, surprising travel agents.

Celebrity Unviels New "When we say 'the grass is greener with Celebrity Cruises,' we mean that everything someone could want on their vacation is more authentic, more stylish, and more compelling with Celebrity," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "Real grass growing on our top decks, private and spacious veranda staterooms, our Suite Class, and globally inspired cuisine – these are some of the reasons why the grass is greener with Celebrity. Through this campaign, we want to celebrate everything that makes Celebrity the ultimate modern luxury vacation, and tell that story to affluent travelers, their friends and families who are considering a cruise to any of the world's seven continents."

Guests can choose from two private veranda picnic experiences – for brunch or sunset. Curated by Celebrity's new James Beard-featured chef, the picnic experience is the first of its kind for vacationers sailing with the premium cruise line, and will roll out across the fleet beginning in June, to be available on all ships* in July. Today, Celebrity has surprise Grass is Greener events in store for sailing guests, including evening celebrations, complete with entertainment, food and the new Grass is Greener cocktail – a summer-themed blend of cucumber juice, vodka, agave nectar, jalapeno, lemon juice and basil.

NCL Names New Creative and Media Agency
Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week that it has named BBDO and OMD to be its creative and media agency partners, respectively.

Celebrity Unviels New The account had previously been handled by The Martin Agency. The business will now be led out of BBDO Atlanta and OMD Midwest.

BBDO will be responsible for providing creative and strategic leadership and development of a multimedia advertising campaign. OMD will be responsible for media planning and buying across all media channels.

“Norwegian Cruise Line and the cruise industry are on an uptick and we are looking to capitalize on this business momentum,” said Meg Lee, VP and Chief Marketing Officer. “We initiated this review with the goal to identify the best agency partners to help take Norwegian to the next level and accelerate the global expansion of the brand and our unique Freestyle Cruising proposition. In BBDO and OMD, we have found two agencies with proven track records of success with high involvement brands. More importantly, they each have demonstrated a knowledge about creating campaigns that cross multiple channels. They also have shown that they work well – together and with us. We can’t wait to get started.”

It is expected that the first new work from BBDO and OMD will debut in January 2016.

Carnival Announces Management Changes
James Heaney, an experienced financial executive with more than 25 years in the cruise and hospitality industries, has been named senior vice president and chief financial officer for Miami-based Carnival Cruise Line, the world’s largest cruise operator.

James Heaney has been named senior vice president and chief financial officerIn this capacity, Heaney will be responsible for all of the company’s financial, accounting and information technology functions. He joins Carnival June 22 reporting to President Christine Duffy.

“Jim is the ideal candidate for this role, previously holding key leadership positions in a wide range of well-known cruise and hospitality brands, as well as global experience in finance, revenue management, IT and travel operations, all of which will be a tremendous asset to our company,” Duffy said.

Before joining Carnival, Heaney spent three years as CFO for SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., responsible for overseeing the company’s financial organization. He previously held a number of executive financial positions, including CFO and senior vice president of finance and travel operations, at Disney Cruise Line where he worked for 17 years. Prior to that, Heaney held various financial posts at Royal Caribbean Cruises, as well as Pueblo International, which operated a large Florida-based grocery store chain, and Gould, Inc., a manufacturer of super mini-computers used primarily for military application.

Heaney earned a bachelor’s of science in business administration from Texas Tech University as well as a master’s of business administration from the University of Florida.

Adolfo Perez, a 33-year veteran of Carnival Cruise Line, has been named the company’s vice president of trade sales and marketing.

In this role, Perez will be responsible for Carnival’s business development teams and trade marketing functions. Perez starts his new position June 2 reporting to Lynn Torrent, Carnival’s executive vice president of sales and guest services.

“Adolfo is a seasoned travel professional with a true passion for cruising and an appreciation for the valuable and important role that travel agents play in the cruise-selling process,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president. “We considered both internal and external candidates for this role and felt that Adolfo’s years of experience in the industry and his commitment to the agency community made him the best fit for the job. I am confident that his outstanding leadership skills will serve the trade and our team of sales professionals in the field very well,” she added.

Perez’s experience includes serving as managing director of the company’s UK office where he established Carnival’s travel professional sales network and led the line’s strategic growth initiatives in that country, while overseeing all trade engagement and sales and marketing efforts. He will continue to serve as head of commercial operations for Carnival’s UK business in his new role.

Perez joined Carnival in 1982 as an embarkation agent and has held multiple managerial positions within the company’s reservations and sales departments over the past three decades, including vice president of reservations sales, overseeing the line’s reservations contact centers where he developed many relationships within the travel agent community. He most recently served as the company’s vice president of new markets and new product marketing.

“Working with travel agents for the better part of three decades has provided me with keen insight into the tremendous impact of agents on the overall success of our business,” Perez said. “I am thrilled and honored to lead the best sales organization in the travel industry as we continue to work with agents in developing new and innovative ways to grow their business,” he added.

A resident of Miami Beach, Fla., Perez earned a master’s degree in business administration from Florida International University in Miami, as well as a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) designation from the Institute of Certified Travel Agents (ICTA).

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.78 - 0.36%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 76.16 + 0.45%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.88 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.76 + 0.40%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
For safety and speed reasons, the SS United States, once the fastest ship afloat, was constructed almost entirely of aluminium and steel. In fact, it was said that there were only two items made of wood on board the entire ship. What were those two items?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 includes a feature from one of the great liners of the past. The feature is designed to cover the forward deck gear and give the ship a more graceful look. What is the feature called and what ship provided the inspiration for Queen Mary 2?

Answer - The device covering the foredeck of the Queen Mary 2 is called a "turtleback". The first transatlantic liner to use this feature was the the French Line s.s. Normandie of 1935. This not only protected the equipment on the foredeck but made the ship somewhat more aerodynamic. Though she took the the "Blue Riband" from the Queen Mary, the Queen Mary regained it shortly thereafter.
courtesy of Larry P Macdonald, Belmont, MA USA


Cruise News - May 26, 2015

Allure of the Seas Returns to Service Following Extensive Drydock
Gliding on an 82-foot zip line; scaling a 43-foot rock-climbing wall; or sprawling out 136 feet above the sea in a cantilevered whirlpool, Allure of the Seas’ guests will enjoy unique, bird’s-eye views as they sail into some of Europe’s most captivating cities. And having just emerged from an 18-day drydock revitalization, Royal Caribbean International’s Allure of the Seas is even better than ever. The ship that helped redefine cruise vacationing in the Caribbean, is delivering Europe’s must-see cities – such as Barcelona, Marseilles, Pisa and Rome – with a host of new restaurants, suites and staterooms, and name-brand boutiques that combine into an unmatched Europe adventure for the whole family.

Allure of the Seas Returns to Service Following Extensive DrydockWith 18 distinct restaurants, Allure of the Seas amps up the flavor with a host of new onboard culinary experiences:
• Izumi Hibachi & Sushi, a reimagined Izumi Japanese Cuisine, offering a full teppanyaki menu, as well as fresh and flavorful sushi rolls and sashimi;
• Sabor Taqueria & Tequila Bar, featuring a mouthwatering menu of authentic, modern and unexpected Mexican dishes, including hand-made tableside guacamole. These dishes can be complemented by a curated beverage menu of tequilas, mezcal, and Mexican beers, as well as delicious sangrias and tableside-mixed margaritas;
• Coastal Kitchen, an exclusive restaurant for suite guests and Pinnacle members, fuses Mediterranean influences with the unmatched riches of California’s bountiful farmlands. The experience is complemented by a robust wine list, curated specifically for the venue And, guests onboard Allure of the Seas will continue to enjoy Giovanni’s Table, 150 Central Park and Vintage Wine Bar, among all the popular specialty restaurants introduced on the Oasis class.

New Exclusive Suite Experiences - Royal Caribbean is introducing 10 new suites onboard Allure of the Seas. These suites offer breathtaking views of the ocean or the ship’s signature AquaTheater and Boardwalk neighborhood and include two Royal Suites, six Grand Suites and two Royal Family Suites. These suites offer a new level of sophistication when paired with the variety of new exclusive suite amenities that include a Suite Lounge, an exclusive lounge area for suite guests to relax offering unmatched expansive views of the ship and sea; the Sun Deck, a new sun deck area that gives suites guests the chance to soak-up and relax in the Caribbean sun with lounge furniture, shaded and seating areas and private service; as well as Coastal Kitchen the suites only full-service restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Superior Onboard Shopping - In addition, Allure of the Seas’ guests can shop till they drop with new and exciting onboard boutiques kate spade new york and Michael Kors, in addition to the guest-favorite Coach fine leathers boutique. Guests also have a wide selection of fine jewelry and luxury timepieces in the new Regalia in the Park, Royal Caribbean’s signature duty-free boutique set in the ship’s Central Park neighborhood.

Through October 2015, Allure of the Seas will be homeported at Barcelona, Spain, for the first full Oasis-class Europe season. In November 2015, Allure of the Seas will return to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., alternating seven-night Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries every Sunday, visiting exciting warm-weather getaways in the Caribbean.

New Carnival Vista Designed As The Ultimate Family Vacation
Embodying Carnival Cruise Line's motto of Fun For All, All For Fun, the new Carnival Vista will offer family members of all ages the ultimate vacation experience, debuting a variety of amazing, one-of-a-kind on-board features when it enters service next spring.

New Carnival Vista Designed As The Ultimate Family VacationFrom a unique suspended cycling experience called SkyRide and the innovative Family Harbor staterooms and suites featuring a "family concierge" to cruising's first IMAX Theater, Carnival Vista promises fun for the whole family.

"Carnival is the number one cruise line for families carrying more than 700,000 children annually and Carnival Vista will build upon our leadership position in this area with incredible outdoor attractions and engaging indoor spaces specifically designed with families in mind," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president.

Spectacular Outdoor Spaces - Carnival Vista will take cruising to new heights – literally – with SkyRide, a first-of-its-kind aerial attraction. Here, adventure seekers pedal hanging recumbent-like cycles at speeds of up to 18 miles an hour across an elevated 800-foot-long track, while enjoying panoramic views to the sea 150 feet below. There will be no charge for Sky Ride.

Adjacent to SkyRide is SportSquare, a fun-tastic all-ages open-air recreation area with a 270-foot-long suspended ropes course, a two-level miniature golf course, a 700-foot-long jogging track, a variety of outdoor fitness equipment, and the new Clubhouse, a modern indoor sports hangout with mini-bowling, ping-pong, sports-themed video games, arcade-style sports games and more.

When it's time to cool off, the young – and the young at heart – can check out WaterWorks, the largest aqua park in the fleet highlighted by Kaleid-o-Slide, Carnival's first inner-tube slide. Riders can zip down 455 feet of exhilarating corkscrew turns enhanced by music and stunning kaleidoscopic effects. And no Carnival water park is complete without the Twister slide, offering 300 feet of high-speed fun, as well as the PowerDrencher, a 300-gallon tipping bucket that's sure to elicit shrieks from kids with each drenching. A kiddie area with 30 different water spray toys and mini-racing slides will be available for younger cruisers.

Amazing On-Board Entertainment Options - There are indoor thrills, too, with the cruise industry's first IMAX Theater with a three-deck-high screen that brings an immersive cinema experience to sea with the latest Hollywood blockbusters and family favorites, IMAX classics and IMAX documentary content. The 182-seat IMAX Theater is part of the Carnival Multiplex, which includes Thrill Theater, a multi-dimensional experience where seats move back and forth and side to side and viewers are sprayed with water and bubbles to make them feel like they're part of the movie. The Warehouse, featuring video and arcade games, is located next door. And no trip to the multiplex is complete without popcorn and other movie favorites, available at a nearby concession stand.

Families can also enjoy all-ages comedy shows at the 385-seat Punchliner Comedy Club presented by George Lopez as well as the audience participation favorite Hasbro, The Game Show. New for Carnival Vista will be a premium ice cream parlor within the Cherry on Top confection store where patrons can select their favorite ice cream and mix-ins and watch as their frozen creation is made right before their eyes.

Family-Friendly Accommodations - Exclusive to Carnival Vista is Family Harbor, located within a dedicated family zone aft on Deck 2 with 96 specially designed "family ergonomic" accommodations, including extra-large family suites accommodating five guests and featuring two bathrooms.

The Family Harbor Lounge is a secluded space designed as the ultimate family hangout with large screen TVs, board games and complimentary breakfast, cookies and other snacks. An exclusive family concierge maximizes the fun on board, assisting with dining, spa and shore excursion reservations, registering kids for the youth programs and making recommendations on and off the ship for families with kids of all ages.

Family Harbor staterooms include kid-friendly toiletries, bathrobes and slippers while suites feature separate sleeping quarters for parents and children and a walk-in closet. Guests in Family Harbor staterooms also receive a number of exclusive benefits and privileges, including 24/7 card key access to the Family Harbor Lounge, free meals for kids under age 12 in specialty restaurants, and one free evening in Night Owls, a late-night activities program held in Camp Ocean.

Carnival Vista will also feature Dr. Seuss Bookville, a family reading and play venue featuring iconic décor and funky furniture inspired by the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. Here, kids and their families can read Dr. Seuss books, enjoy arts and crafts, toys and play Dr. Seuss-inspired games. Dr. Seuss Bookville is part of Seuss at Sea, a fleetwide program that also includes the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends, and Seuss-a-Palooza Parade and Story Time.

Carnival Vista will also include a 4,000-square-foot Camp Ocean play area where kids ages 2-11 are immersed in the wonders of the sea through a variety of age-appropriate, fun-filled and engaging experiences and activities. Camp Ocean includes Party Reef, a common area for all ages, as well as a breakout room for arts and crafts called Creative Cove. Just outside Camp Ocean, are two outdoor playgrounds: Camp Ocean Playground featuring climbing, tactile and exploratory activities for the little ones, while the interactive NEOS® Play Zone offers fast paced high-tech physical fun for older kids. For early teens, there's Circle "C," designed as the ultimate chill space for 12- to 14-year-olds, as well as Club O2, a cool hangout just for 15 to 17 year olds.

Carnival Vista is scheduled to enter service from Europe May 1, 2016, then reposition to New York for a series of voyages in November 2016 followed by the launch of year-round Caribbean service from Miami later that month.

Cunard's Three Queens Perform River Dance on the Mersey
For the first time, Cunard's fleet gathered together in spectacular fashion in Liverpool, its spiritual home, as the company marked its 175th anniversary. The event culminated with the three ships - flagship Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria - the largest passenger ships ever to muster together on the River Mersey, lined up across the river just 426 feet apart as the Red Arrows performed a fly-past overhead to the delight of the hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Cunards Three Queens Perform River Dance on the MerseyQueen Mary 2 sailed from the Liverpool berth up to the mouth of the Mersey this morning at 10:45 a.m. to meet her sisters, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. The three ships then sailed in close single file down the river to Liverpool's Pier Head with its iconic Three Graces: The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and The Port of Liverpool Building.

Queen Mary 2 slowed in the river opposite the Cunard Building – Cunard's headquarters for nearly 50 years until 1967 – with her sister ships stopping ahead of her to create a three ship line-up watched by spectators on both sides of the river.

Just 1,312 feet apart, the three ships then performed a graceful 180 degree synchronised turn to starboard. At the mid-point of the turn, all three ships lay across the river, creating the spectacle of the fleet's three bows dramatically set against the backdrop of Liverpool's famous Three Graces. Queen Mary 2 then sounded '175' on her ship's whistle (foghorn) – first one, then seven short blasts, then five more.

With the full turn completed and the 150,000 ton Queen Mary 2 now in the leading position, her two 90,000 ton sister ships then glided slowly towards either side of her to create an arrowhead formation, with the flagship just ahead of her two consort ships.

Finally, the entire fleet lined up three abreast across the river just 426 feet apart, as a salute to the Cunard Building and the City of Liverpool.

With the Three Queens in this tight formation, the Red Arrows flew in formation low over the Three Queens as they lined up on the river, a coup de grace which created a once-in-a-lifetime moment that thrilled hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Commodore of the Cunard fleet Christopher Rynd said, "It's been a privilege to bring the Cunard fleet together on the Mersey for the first time ever to mark Cunard's 175th anniversary year and our historic and ongoing partnership with Liverpool, our spiritual home."

"All of us at Cunard are moved by the incredible reception the Three Queens have received from the people of Liverpool and beyond today," remarked Richard Meadows, Cunard, President, North America. "This moment has brought the relationship between Cunard and the Mersey alive, and that together, Liverpool and Cunard have paid tribute to the people who have created our 175 years of shared history."

HAL Names Captain of New ms Koningsdam
When Holland America Line's ms Koningsdam sets sail in April 2016, Captain Emiel de Vries will be in command. Having been with the company since 1997, de Vries rose through the ranks from fourth officer to captain and has been master of ms Amsterdam, ms Eurodam, ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Rotterdam and ms Zuiderdam.

HAL Names Captain of New ms Koningsdam De Vries currently lives near Venice, Italy, to be close to the Fincantieri shipyard where ms Koningsdam is being built. He has been involved with the newbuild project since 2014 and participated in the functional design of the navigation bridge — his "office" when he is onboard.

"With his knowledge, experience and dedication, Captain de Vries is the perfect choice to be at the helm when we introduce Koningsdam to the world," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Captain de Vries' leadership and graciousness with both guests and crew will contribute greatly to the success of our new ship."

Hailing from the Netherlands, de Vries grew up just east of Amsterdam. He graduated from the Hogere Zeevaart School in Amsterdam, one of the oldest nautical schools in the world, with degrees in navigation and engineering. De Vries was introduced to Holland America Line in 1995 when he interned as a cadet on the former ms Noordam, and since joining the company, he has sailed on every class of Holland America Line's ships.

"It is an honor to be named the first captain of the new Koningsdam, and I know bringing out the ship will be one of the highlights of my career," said de Vries. "Being at the shipyard has enabled me to gain detailed insight into many areas of the ship, and I look forward to welcoming the first guests on board during the inaugural season."

When not in Italy at the shipyard, de Vries lives in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, with his wife, Susan, and their daughter.

When Koningsdam sets sail on its Premier Voyage April 8, 2016, the vessel will debut several innovative concepts and new public venues while still featuring popular amenities guests associate with Holland America Line.

Celebrity Enhances Caribbean Itineraries to Offer Guests More Overnights

Celebrity Enhances Caribbean Itineraries to Offer Guests More OvernightsCelebrity Cruises is offering guests an unmatched experience by introducing additional overnight stays on more than 40 Caribbean sailings for January 2016 and beyond, more than any other cruise line.

The popularity of Celebrity's current overnight program has led to 43 newly enhanced itineraries, giving guests the chance to enjoy exciting evenings in destinations such as Cartagena, Colombia; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Cozumel, Mexico; Aruba; Curacao and Barbados.

"Guests and travel agents love our overnight program in Europe, Asia and around the world, and their feedback has been amazing. This demand led us to revisit our current Caribbean itineraries and add even more overnights in one of the most beautiful places we sail to each year," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises.

"With more overnights in the Caribbean than any other cruise line, we are offering our guests an incredible, unrivaled experience. They can enjoy the destination like a local before returning to our stylish, modern luxury ships."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.95 - 2.00%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 75.82 + 0.13%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.88 + 2.86%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 54.54 - 1.71%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 includes a feature from one of the great liners of the past. The feature is designed to cover the forward deck gear and give the ship a more graceful look. What is the feature called and what ship provided the inspiration for Queen Mary 2?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which liner was the favorite of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor for Atlantic crossings during the 1950's? On crossings they would always book the same suites and travel with nearly 100 pieces of luggage and their pug dogs

Answer - The favorite liner of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the 1950's was the United States. They switched to the then new USL liner because of the panache of her speed record, and also because Cunard Line had informed them that they would have to charge the couple a baggage handling fee for the extensive number of bags and trunks they carried, and would no longer honor the "free passage" Cunard had provided for members of the Royal Family.
courtesy of Andy Carroll


Cruise News - May 18, 2015

Norwegian Dawn Runs Aground Near Bermuda
On Tuesday, May 19th at approximately 5:00 pm ET, NCL's Norwegian Dawn ran aground due to malfunction of its steering system. The malfunction caused the ship to sail off course as the ship was departing Bermuda, resulting in the vessel making contact with the sea bed. According to the cruise line, all guests and crew are safe and there were no injuries.

Norwegian Dawn Runs Aground Near BermudaThe ship is sailing on a seven-night Boston to Bermuda cruise with 2,443 passengers and 1,059 crew.

Immediately following the incident, the ship's officers, engineers and an independent dive team conducted an inspection that confirmed the structural integrity of the ship. With high-tide ton Tuesday, the ship was floated and moved to a nearby anchorage position where it remained overnight. The ship remained fully operational with the full complement of onboard services available to guests.

On Wednesday, May 20, a thorough assessment of Norwegian Dawn was completed by Norwegian's technical operations team, an independent dive team, and DNVGL inspectors, representing the ship's classification society, while the ship was alongside in Heritage Wharf, Bermuda. The team confirmed the structural integrity of the ship and the technical issue which caused the steering malfunction was identified and corrected.

The ship is expected to be cleared to depart Bermuda at 3pm today and resume sailing to Boston, and is expected to arrive on Friday as scheduled. Norwegian Dawn's next voyage will depart as scheduled on May 22.

NCL announced that all guests sailing on the current voyage will receive a future cruise credit of 15% of their cruise fare to use towards a future Norwegian cruise.

Viking Star Christened
Marking a significant milestone in the arrival of the travel industry's first entirely new cruise line in a decade, Viking Ocean Cruises yesterday christened its first ship, the 930-passenger Viking Star. The ceremony – which took place in Bergen, Norway – occurred in conjunction with a citywide celebration for Norwegian Constitution Day and featured parades, parties and a public concert in the harbor that was attended by approximately 20,000 local residents and visitors.

In addition to the public fanfare, Viking Star's arrival in Bergen is noteworthy because it marks the first time in 10 years that a Norwegian-flagged passenger cruise ship has chosen Norway's second-largest city as its homeport. Furthermore, the mayor of Bergen, Trude Drevland, served as ceremonial godmother and offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing for Viking Star – a naval tradition that dates back thousands of years.

Viking Star Christened In Homeport Of Bergen, Norway"We believe the arrival of Viking Star signals a new era in destination-focused cruising, and I could not be more proud that she will call my favorite city in the world 'home,'" said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "This is a ship that was built for exploration and designed with our Scandinavian heritage in mind, and our guests will experience it from the moment they step onboard."

Viking Star's christening was the culmination of a maiden voyage that began April 11 when the ship set sail from Istanbul. Over the last five weeks, she made stops in what will be regular ports across the Mediterranean and Western Europe, including Athens, Santorini, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Venice, Barcelona, Seville (Cadiz), Gibraltar, Lisbon, Paris (Rouen) and London. Yesterday in Bergen, Viking Star was positioned in the harbor to serve as the backdrop for a first-of-its kind floating concert. As thousands of attendees gathered along the waterfront last night, they were treated to performances by world-renowned artists and musicians – all of whom have a personal connection to Bergen – including Norwegian soprano Sissel, actor Bjarte Hjelmeland, singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche, acclaimed violinist Charlie Siem and comedy duo Ylvis. Following the concert, christening ceremony, and a fireworks show, Viking Star set sail on a special journey to Oslo and from there will continue on to Copenhagen, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm.

Classified as a "small ship," Viking Star has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons and accommodates 930 passengers in 465 staterooms – each with its own veranda. Engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, guests have an easy and efficient embarkation and disembarkation, allowing them more time to spend enjoying each destination. With early reviews already in, Viking Star has been described by some as a "game changer," and USA Today proclaimed "you're going to love Viking Star."

Light-filled with modern Scandinavian décor, Viking Star was designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships®. Throughout the ship, details were incorporated to pay homage to Nordic heritage and to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings. A glass-backed infinity pool off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessel in its class; huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out; and a wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners.

Onboard Viking Star, clean lines, woven textiles and light wood evoke the Viking spirit of discovery and connection to the natural world. A carefully curated collection of Norwegian artwork adorns the walls of the restaurants and public spaces. In the two-deck Explorers' Lounge at the bow of the ship, the décor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods – imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cozy pelts. In the Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia is in mind – from the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and the first Snow Room at sea, to materials inspired by Scandinavian nature: Swedish limestone and black slate; juniper and teak wood details; recycled and etched opaque glass; and cast iron. In the Wintergarden, blonde wood "trees" stretch their branches up to the glass ceiling, forming a lattice canopy over a serene space where guests can enjoy afternoon tea service. And in the Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway's Finse Mountain Plateau.

Viking Ocean Cruises guests enjoy curated itineraries that are designed to best showcase the destinations that they visit, with a complimentary excursion in each port and an onboard cultural enrichment program that includes academic lecturers, local speakers and interactive demonstrations. Viking Star is one of three ocean cruise ships on order; two additional ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, are currently under construction.

Genting Hong Kong Completes Acquisition Of Crystal Cruises
Genting Hong Kong (GHK) today announced that it has completed the acquisition of Crystal Cruises (Crystal), from Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK), for a total transaction of US$550 million. GHK also announced a new Chairman of Crystal and promotions for Crystal's current senior management team, guaranteeing a streamlined transition and virtually no interruption in operations and ensuring award-winning service.

Genting Hong Kong Completes Acquistion Of Crystal CruisesTan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Executive Chairman of the Genting Group and the former Chairman of Norwegian Cruise Line, assumes the position of Chairman of Crystal, replacing Nobuyoshi Kuzuya who will return to NYK in a key executive position. Edie Rodriguez, a 34-year travel industry veteran who was previously President and Chief Operating Officer will be promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer. Thomas Mazloum, a 20-plus year veteran of Crystal's management team who was previously Executive Vice-President will be promoted to Chief Operating Officer.

"Genting Hong Kong is delighted and honored to add Crystal to our global hospitality and leisure brands," said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay. "We will ensure Crystal's reputation as 'The World's Best and Most Awarded Luxury Cruise Line,' by maintaining its integrity and work to continue elevating its status as the highest standard of luxury cruising. The current management team and crew will continue to lead Crystal's six-star operation while Genting will provide the financial resources and proven expertise in innovative ship design to deliver a new ultra-luxury ocean vessel by 2018."

"We are extremely grateful for the unwavering support of our former parent company, NYK and the wonderful leadership and guidance of Mr. Kuzuya," said Rodriguez. "We look forward to ushering in a new era of luxury cruising with Genting Hong Kong's support. With the support of GHK and its reputation for creating world-renowned leisure, entertainment and exquisite hospitality properties, Crystal is set to embark upon new opportunities that will expand our offerings for our guests and travel partners, as well as broader opportunities for our wonderful team of Crystal employees on land and at sea."

Established in 1993, GHK is part of the Genting Group, a global hospitality and leisure company with business in over 20 countries, including the United States in New York, Florida and Nevada. GHK wholly owns Star Cruises, "The Leading Cruise Line in Asia Pacific," and is a major shareholder of Norwegian Cruise Line. GHK is a public company primarily listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and secondarily on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

Crystal Cruises' first award-winning luxury vessel, Crystal Harmony embarked in 1990, with sister ships Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity joining the fleet in 1995 and 2003, respectively. Since Crystal Harmony's retirement in 2005, the line has operated its enriching global itineraries with the two remaining ships, often pioneering cruise ship access to ports and experiences throughout the world. Continuing innovative momentum, in 2016, Crystal will be the first large luxury cruise line to navigate the elusive Northwest Passage, while in 2018, the cruise line will expand its coveted World Cruise portfolio with four separate global itineraries.

Disney Cruise Line Returning to New York, Miami and Galveston in 2016
In the fall of 2016, Disney Cruise Line will return to New York for a limited time with sailings to the Bahamas that include a visit to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. New seven-night Caribbean cruises from Miami and a return to Galveston, Texas round out the season.

Disney Cruise Line Returning to New York, Miami and Galveston in 2016Return to New York - On Oct. 7, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from New York on an eight-night Bahamian cruise that includes stops at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay; Nassau, Bahamas; and Port Canaveral, Florida, which is located just one hour from the Walt Disney World Resort.

On Oct. 15, 22 and 29, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from New York on seven-night cruises that stop at Castaway Cay and Port Canaveral.

Adding to the magic on each of these Bahamian cruises will be the opportunity to visit the Walt Disney World Resort when the ship stops at nearby Port Canaveral. Each guest on these sailings will receive a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and round-trip transportation for the short trip between the ship and the resort.

On Oct. 2, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from New York on a five-night cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia and Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. In these charming Canadian ports, guests can soak in splendid natural vistas, explore historic sites, visit quaint cafes and shops, and browse Canada's oldest farmer's market.

New Seven-night Cruises from Miami - For the first time, Disney Cruise Line guests will be able to enjoy a season of seven-night voyages from Miami to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. On Nov. 20 and Dec. 4, 2016, the Disney Magic will sail from Miami to the Western Caribbean including Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Castaway Cay.

On Nov. 27 and Dec. 11, the Disney Magic will sail to the Eastern Caribbean including Tortola, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay. On Dec. 23, the Disney Magic will sail to Tortola, San Juan and Castaway Cay.

Additional Miami sailings include a four-night Bahamas cruise departing on Nov. 16, a five-night Bahamas cruise departing on Dec. 18, and a six-night Western Caribbean cruise departing on Dec. 30, 2016. Each sailing will include a stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

Return to Galveston - In late 2016, Disney Cruise Line returns to Texas with a line up of seven-night itineraries, including Bahamian sailings that stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. On Nov. 18, Nov. 25, Dec. 9, Dec. 23 and Dec. 30, 2016, the Disney Wonder will sail on a seven-night Bahamian itinerary from Galveston to Key West, Castaway Cay and Nassau.

On Dec. 2, the Disney Wonder will sail on a seven-night Caribbean itinerary from Galveston to Falmouth, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. On Dec. 16, the Disney Wonder will sail from Galveston on a seven-night cruise to Cozumel, Costa Maya and Grand Cayman. Two four-night sailings to Cozumel on Nov. 10 and Nov. 14, round up the sailings from Galveston.

Royal Caribbean Selects New Creative Agency
Royal Caribbean Selects New Creative AgencyRoyal Caribbean International today announced its intent to retain Mullen Lowe of Boston, Massachusetts to lead the cruise line’s creative efforts, pending successful contract negotiations.

“After an extensive search we are thrilled to announce our partnership with Mullen Lowe,” said Michael Bayley, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “We are impressed by their strategic and creative thinking, which matches the energy and innovative imagination of our brand."

Mullen Lowe was selected after an extensive agency review process, during which all of the finalist agency teams presented outstanding industry resources and made commendable efforts to demonstrate their skills and creative talent. Mullen Lowe, an award-winning agency which was named to Ad Age’s Agency A-List in three of the past five years and also named a Creativity Innovator of the Year in 2014, is part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG) of agencies.

“Royal Caribbean has an amazing fleet of innovative ships and a commitment to delivering unforgettable adventures to travelers,” said Alex Leikikh, CEO, Mullen Lowe Group. “We’re excited to help Royal Caribbean firmly differentiate their brand, increase guest loyalty and inspire first-time cruisers to discover the transformative effect of a Royal Caribbean experience.”

Cruise Lines International Association Names New President
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) today announced Thomas P. Ostebo will join CLIA as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective July 6, 2015. Selected by CLIA's Global Executive Committee, Ostebo will oversee CLIA operations both domestically and internationally, working directly with his senior leadership team to execute the organization's vision and work on behalf of CLIA members.

Cruise Lines International Association Names New PresidentA seasoned senior executive leader, Ostebo has more than 30 years of experience leading large, sophisticated and complex organizations. He joins CLIA from the United States Coast Guard where he served as Rear Admiral. Most recently, Ostebo was Director of Strategic Management where he supported strategy and budget policy for the Coast Guard. Ostebo also served as Commander for the Coast Guard 17th District and led all Coast Guard Operations in Alaska, the Arctic and North Pacific where he was responsible for protecting life and property, enforcing federal laws and treaties, preserving the living marine resources and promoting national security.

"After a thorough search process, we are thrilled to announce the appointment of our new President and CEO, Thomas Ostebo," said Global CLIA Chairman, Adam M. Goldstein. "Tom brings years of outstanding maritime and strategic business leadership experience to this important position that leads the cruise industry's global association. We are confident CLIA will thrive under his direction for years to come. More importantly, Tom's strong communication skills and energy made him the ideal person for this role."

Ostebo will lead CLIA's work to help all its members succeed and unify, represent, advocate and promote the common interests of the global cruise industry. Among his priorities, he will continue to enhance the Travel Agency, Individual Travel Agent and Executive Partner member programs that were introduced in fall 2014, as well as the new Travel Agent professional development training. Ostebo will be located at CLIA global headquarters in Washington D.C., and work with CLIA's 15 offices across the globe, including Abremar-Brasil, Alaska, Australasia, Belgium & Luxembourg, Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, North America, North Asia, North West & Canada, Southeast Asia, Spain and UK & Ireland.

"I am incredibly humbled, honored and excited to join an industry with such a rich history of success and growth. This appointment is a perfect next step in my career as it allows me to leverage my experiences and passions, from leading large complex teams to advocating for marine resources," said Ostebo. "CLIA currently has a strong foundation and outstanding senior leadership, so I look forward to building upon this and providing new strategies and approaches to move CLIA and the cruise industry forward. Ultimately, my goal is to perform meaningful work and build strong relationships."

The appointment follows the departure of Christine Duffy, former CLIA President and Chief Executive Officer, on January 31, 2015. CLIA relied on the services of executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles to lead the search for a new President and CEO.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.91 + 3.63%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 75.72 + 4.38%
GENTING HK - Star, Crystal Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.80 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 55.49 + 4.25%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which liner was the favorite of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor for Atlantic crossings during the 1950's? On crossings they would always book the same suites and travel with nearly 100 pieces of luggage and their pug dogs.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which Holland America ship caught fire and sank off the Alaska coast in October 1980 while on a positioning cruise from Vancouver to the Orient? Her 524 passengers and crew were evacuated safely. .

Answer - The Holland America liner MS Prinsendam, built in 1973, caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Alaska because a boiler explosion on October 4, 1980. All passengers and crew were saved. The liner finally sank on October 11.
courtesy of Fernando M., Seville, Spain.


Cruise News - May 11, 2015

Royal Caribbean Orders Fourth Quantum-Class Vessel
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Meyer Werft in Germany to order a fourth Quantum-class ship for delivery in 2019.

Royal Caribbean Orders Fourth Quantum-Class Vessel"Today's announcement is a reflection of the success of the first two Quantum-class ships," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "We have received a remarkable response from travel agent partners and travelers, and are thrilled that we'll be able to deliver another revolutionary ship with our partners at Meyer Werft."

"The fourth Quantum class vessel will be a trailblazer in smart-ship design and vacation innovation," said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. "Royal Caribbean International is synonymous with adventure, and the icons and amenities on this ship will continue to challenge and expand guests' expectations of the cruise experience."

Based upon current ship orders, projected capital expenditures for full year 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are $1.6 billion, $2.3 billion, $0.4 billion, $2.4 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively.

Capacity increases for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are expected to be 5.5%, 6.3%, 3.1%, 3.9% and 6.5%, respectively. These figures do not include potential ship sales or additions that the company may elect to make in the future.

The order is contingent upon the completion of customary conditions, including financing.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Reports Financial Results for the First Quarter 2015
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ: NCLH) (NCL Corporation Ltd., "Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings", "Norwegian" or "the Company"), today reported financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2015 and provided guidance for the second quarter and full year 2015.

"I am pleased to report strong earnings out of the gate for our first full quarter of operations following the combination of Norwegian and Prestige late last year," said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. "These results are even more impressive as they come against strong comparables in the prior year, particularly for the Norwegian brand, and headwinds from foreign currency exchange rates," continued Del Rio.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Reports Financial Results for the First Quarter 2015For the first quarter of 2015, the Company generated stronger than expected adjusted earnings per share of $0.27 on Adjusted Net Income of $62.6 million. Earnings exceeded the Company's guidance of $0.20 to $0.24 per share and benefited from lower than expected interest expense and better than anticipated Net Yield performance. On a GAAP basis, diluted loss per share and net loss were $0.10 and $21.5 million, respectively, primarily due to transaction and integration related costs.

Adjusted Net Yield improved 18.9% (or 19.9% on a Constant Currency basis) mainly due to the acquisition of the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands in the fourth quarter of 2014. On a Combined Company basis, which compares current results against the combined results of Norwegian and Prestige in the prior year, Adjusted Net Yield was down 0.7% and essentially flat on a Constant Currency basis against a strong first quarter of 2014 that included the benefit of a one month charter of Norwegian Jade for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Adjusted Net Revenue for the period increased 46.0% to $728.9 million as a result of the acquisition of the Oceania Cruises and Regent brands as well as approximately one month of incremental sailings from Norwegian Getaway which debuted in early 2014. Revenue in the period increased to $938.2 million from $664.0 million in 2014.

Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day increased 28.7% (29.3% on a Constant Currency basis), primarily as a result of the Prestige acquisition, while on a Combined Company basis increased 5.6% (6.1% on a Constant Currency basis). Norwegian's fuel price per metric ton decreased 18.2% to $526 from $643 in 2014.

The incremental debt from the acquisition drove an increase in interest expense, net to $51.0 million from $31.2 million; however, lower than anticipated interest rates resulted in expense that was lower than Norwegian's guidance. Expense of $30.1 million in other income (expense) in 2015 was primarily attributable to a fair value adjustment on a foreign exchange collar for one of the Company's newbuilds.

As a result of continued integration and synergy identification efforts, Norwegian said that it has now identified $75 million in synergies for full year 2015, comprised of $30 million in revenue and $45 million in cost synergies. Norwegian said that it had previously communicated the identification of $15 million in revenue and $25 million in cost synergies for a total of $40 million for 2015. Of the incremental synergies, Norwegian said that it is earmarking $20 million for reinvestment directed to business initiatives to further drive demand to the Company's three brands, resulting in net synergies of $55 million for 2015.

"The identification of additional synergies has come as the result of a truly collaborative effort between our dedicated integration team and all areas of the organization," said Del Rio. "Tasked with a mandate that synergies have a neutral or positive impact on the guest experience, the organization has come together to identify meaningful incremental synergies. The net synergies will have an immediate impact on the bottom line in 2015, while amounts reinvested in our business initiatives will benefit our strategies for earnings growth in 2016 and beyond," continued Del Rio.

For the full year 2016, Norwegian said that it has identified synergies of $115 million which includes the annualization of initiatives introduced in 2015 coupled with new initiatives. Of these, Norwegian said that it plans to reinvest $40 million, resulting in net synergies for the year of $75 million.

2015 Guidance and Sensitivities

In addition to the results for first quarter 2015, Norwegian also provided guidance for the second quarter and full year 2015, along with accompanying sensitivities. Guidance for Adjusted Net Yield and Adjusted Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel per Capacity Day are provided on an as reported basis as well as a Combined Company basis, which compares expectations to 2014 results that include the results of Prestige assuming the acquisition had occurred at the beginning of 2014.

Norwegian's guidance includes the impacts of expected continued fluctuations in foreign exchange rates and an unscheduled Dry-dock for Norwegian Star in the second quarter for warranty-related repairs on its propeller system which malfunctioned post the ship's scheduled Dry-dock in the first quarter.

"We are raising the midpoint of our guidance to take into account the better than anticipated interest expense and net yield performance in the first quarter," said Wendy Beck, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. "We are maintaining our net yield and net cruise cost guidance for the year as benefits from our incremental revenue synergies offset the anticipated foreign currency headwinds and the revenue impact from the unscheduled dry-dock of Norwegian Star. Further, the reinvestment of $20 million into demand-driving initiatives is offset by incremental cost synergies identified in the quarter," continued Beck.

As of March 31, 2015, Norwegian said that it had hedged approximately 74%, 53%, 37% and 11% of its 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 projected metric tons of fuel purchases, respectively. The average fuel price per metric ton of the hedge portfolio for the same periods is $493, $468, $416 and $386, respectively.

Future capital commitments consist of contracted commitments, including ship construction contracts, and future expected capital expenditures necessary for operations. As of March 31, 2015, anticipated capital expenditures were $1.1 billion for the remainder of 2015, and $0.9 billion and $1.0 billion for each of the years ending December 31, 2016 and 2017, respectively, of which we have export credit financing in place for the expenditures related to ship construction contracts of $0.7 billion for the remainder of 2015, $0.5 billion for 2016 and $0.6 billion for 2017.

100 Years On, Cunard Remembers Lusitania in Cobh, Ireland
Relatives of those who died and survived the sinking of Lusitania 100 years ago to the day were among those who gathered at the ship's rail aboard Cunard's Queen Victoria in the early hours of Thursday 7 May as the ship paused over the site of the wreck, off the Old Head of Kinsale near Cobh in Ireland.

Alan Gibson, who lost his great uncle, one of Queen Victoria's numerous passengers who had relatives who sailed on Lusitania's fateful last voyage.Four wreaths were cast into the sea at a moving ceremony on board before dawn to mark the 1,195 lives that were lost. Other relatives clutched fresh flowers, ready to throw them into the sea in memory of family members lost or damaged by the sinking. Queen Victoria then added her own tribute to those who perished by sounding a blast on the ship's whistle or foghorn.

Cunard's Queen Victoria arrived in Cobh this morning to pay tribute to the loss of Lusitania 100 years on, and to participate in commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the loss of the line's flagship, Lusitania, on 7 May 1915.

A new memorial was unveiled at the Old Church Cemetery in Cobh, Ireland to name all of Lusitania's victims buried at the site, including those lying unrecognised in the mass graves, which took place today to mark the sinking of the line's flagship Lusitania in a tragedy that changed the rules of engagement at sea.

At the Old Church Cemetery, wreaths were laid by John Mullins, Chairman of the Port of Cork; David Dingle, Chairman of Cunard; Councillor Alan Coleman, Mayor of County Cork; and Commodore of the Cunard fleet and master of Cunard's Queen Victoria.

Later in the day, a moving memorial service was led by Irish President Michael D. Higgins who arrived with a full naval service guard of honour to lead a service to mark the loss of the Lusitania exactly 100 years ago. British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott, US Ambassador Kevin O'Malley and German embassy Charge d'Affaires Wolfram von Heynitz also attended the service.

Blasts on Queen Victoria's ship's whistle marked the time exactly 100 years before when Lusitania was hit (2.10pm) and when the ship sank just 18 minutes later (2.28pm).

Music interspersed readings given by John Mullins, Chairman of the Port of Cork, and David Dingle, Chairman of Cunard. A moving survivor's account of the disaster was read by Commodore of the Cunard Fleet Christopher Rynd, before wreaths were laid at the poignant Lusitania Peace Monument in the town square.

Four glass memorial walls were also unveiled today in the churchyard above the town of Cobh, Ireland, where many of those who lost their lives in the Lusitania disaster exactly 100 years ago lie buried in mass graves.

Balearia Requests Permission to Start Ferry Operations to Cuba
Balearia has requested a license to operate between the U.S. and Cuba from the U.S. Treasury Department, after both countries' announcement of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. The shipping company is awaiting an official response from the U.S. government, and the subsequent authorization from the Cuban government.

Balearia Requests Permission to Start Ferry Operations to CubaThe Spanish maritime transport company has operated in the Caribbean region since late 2011 under the brand Bahamas Express, connecting Fort Lauderdale (north of Miami) and Freeport (in Grand Bahama Island). The route is now run by the ferry Bahama Mama (formerly called Alhucemas). Previously, the fast ferry Pinar del Rio that still remains in the area operated it. This high-speed vessel "is ideal for the Cuba routes," says Adolfo Utor, President of Balearia, who adds that the ship has all the certificates required by the Coast Guard to start operating.

For its connections with Cuba, Balearia would operate two lines between Florida and the Havana Port: one with a high speed vessel from Key West, and a second with a ferry from Port Everglades.

The shipping company transported more than 130,000 passengers, between the U.S. and the Bahamas in 2014, which represented an 18% growth compared to the previous year. There's a new route planned for this year from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau (in the island of New Providence). "Our service to the Bahamas is now established and therefore we are ready to open new connections and markets in the area that will allow us to grow," said Utor

Ruby Princess Receives Special Welcome in Juneau
A dog sled team led by Maliko Ubl welcomed Ruby Princess to the port of Juneau during her maiden voyage in Southeast Alaska.Guests aboard Ruby Princess received a special welcome today as a team of Alaska sled dogs "pulled" the ship into the port of Juneau, marking the vessel's maiden voyage in Southeast Alaska.

The four-dog sled team, driven by Maliko Ubl of TEMSCO Helicopters Mendenhall Glacier Dog Sledding Tours and Alaska Icefield Expedition, mushed their way alongside the cruise ship giving guests an official Alaska welcome before they disembarked and enjoyed the day exploring Juneau. Princess guests even got the chance to meet and take photos with the dogs before departing for shore excursions to experience the Great Land.

Princess Cruises, voted the Best Cruise Line in Alaska seven years running by the readers of Travel Weekly, is now making the top vacation experience in Alaska even better with the debut of North to Alaska! Introduced for the 2015 cruise season and created in partnership with local experts, North to Alaska! features a variety of authentic Alaska culinary, educational and entertainment experiences designed to delve deeper into the fascinating frontier guests are exploring around them. The program includes expanded Alaska seafood offerings, with signature dishes from local chefs and restaurants; unique interactions with Alaskans; and onboard festivals to allow guests to eat like a local, learn from the locals, and celebrate like a local.

Princess' Alaska cruise season features seven ships offering seven-day itineraries cruising from the ports of Vancouver, Whittier and Seattle; and 10-day sailings from San Francisco.

Carnival Legend Marks Equator Crossing with Traditional Maritime Ceremony
Carnival Legend Marks Equator Crossing with Traditional Maritime CeremonyGuests and crew aboard the Carnival Legend – in the midst of an 11-day repositioning cruise from Sydney to Vancouver – participated in a centuries-old maritime tradition held to commemorate a ship’s crossing of the equator.

Once Carnival Legend crossed the equator, the ship’s horn bellowed, summoning everyone to the Lido Deck for the time-honored ceremony. Accompanied by a band of friendly pirates, Captain Francesco La Fauci and Chief Engineer Vito Antonelli presided over the festivities which were witnessed by hundreds of mariners who gathered on deck.

Following the ceremony, the former Carnival Legend “pollywogs” – or novice sailors – were bestowed the new title of “trusty shellback” in recognition of their distinction of crossing the equator.

Carnival Legend is scheduled to arrive in Vancouver on May 18 and will sail on an eight-day Alaska cruise ending in Seattle May 26. The ship will then operate a summer schedule of seven-day Alaska cruises from Seattle through September 8

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.23 + 4.29%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 72.56 + 6.53%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.80 +- 3.45%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 53.23 + 7.62%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which Holland America ship caught fire and sank off the Alaska coast in October 1980 while on a positioning cruise from Vancouver to the Orient? Her 524 passengers and crew were evacuated safely.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
The first major liner to use this system of stabilizers was Italy's beautiful Conte di Savoia of 1932. She was running mate to the Blue Riband winner Rex.

Answer - The first major liner to use this system of stabilizers was Italy's beautiful Conte di Savoia of 1932. She was running mate to the Blue Riband winner Rex.
courtesy of Dave in LA


Cruise News - May 4, 2015

Cunard pays tribute to the loss of Lusitania 100 years on
On Friday 7 May the Cunard flagship Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 1,195 lives. On Thursday 7 May 2015, 100 years on, Cunard's Queen Victoria will pay tribute to the tragedy with her seven-night (3 - 10 May 2015) 'Lusitania Remembered' cruise. Sailing from and back to Southampton, the voyage will call at St Peter Port (Guernsey), Le Havre, Cobh and Dublin.

Cunard pays tribute to the loss of Lusitania 100 years onCunard has commissioned historian Eric Sauder to produce a temporary exhibition of Lusitania memorabilia that will be displayed on board Queen Victoria. The exhibit will feature chine, silver, brochures, postcards, memorabilia and souvenirs that will bring to life the story of Cunard’s former flagship. Eric Sauder has been interested in ocean liners, particularly Lusitania, for over 30 years with his first job being a tour guide on Queen Mary in Long Beach. He has dived on the wreck of Lusitania and has authored two books on the subject. The exhibition will tell Lusitania’s story and feature several unique items including the scissors used by Lady Inverclyde to launch Lusitania in 1906.

At 0330 hours on 7 May Queen Victoria will pause over the wreck. Commodore Rynd and Cunard Director Angus Struthers will lay wreaths and passengers travelling who had relatives on Lusitania will offer their own floral tributes prior to Queen Victoria paying her own tribute by sounding her fog horn.

Further tributes will be paid at the Lusitania graves in the Old Churchyard outside Cobh prior to a special commemorative service. Two special moments will be Queen Victoria sounding her whistle at 1410 hours (the moment the torpedo hit Lusitania) and 1428 hours (the moment Lusitania sank). Lusitania was the first of 20 ships Cunard ships lost in the First World War and these will be remembered in service which will include speeches, blessings and hymns. All passengers on Queen Victoria will be able to attend this service which will last for just over an hour.

In addition commemorative dinners will be held during the cruise which will acknowledge and pay tribute to Lusitania and Cunard’s role in the First World War.

Angus Struthers, Cunard Director: “In this, our 175th anniversary year, we will take time to remember and reflect on the loss of the Cunard flagship Lusitania and we hope this special cruise will ensure that the tragedy will continue to be remembered for generations to come. It is especially important for us to be in Cobh on 7 May as we stand united with the port that will forever be associated with the tragedy. The sinking of Lusitania was a human catastrophe on a scale that this small town had not experienced before or since. People there witnessed first-hand, the trauma, tragedy and heartbreak that ensued. The dead, the injured and the bereaved were brought among a community that mobilised itself and responded with courage and compassion to their needs.

“On 7 May 2015, we will remember them”

Princess Cruises' Next New Ship to be Based in China Year Round
Carnival Corporation & plc, announced that the new ship currently under construction for Princess Cruises will be based in China year-round when introduced in summer 2017. Based in Shanghai, the ship will be the first year-round international luxury vessel designed and built specifically for Chinese guests.

The as-yet-unnamed ship is being built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, and will carry approximately 3,600 guests on a variety of itineraries, to be announced at a later date. Based on the design of its highly-acclaimed ships Royal Princess and Regal Princess, the new vessel will feature a number of new innovations customized for the growing number of Chinese cruise vacationers.

Princess Cruises' Next New Ship to be Based in China Year Round"Deploying our next new ship in China underscores our strong commitment to growing the China cruise market and providing discerning travelers with amazing vacation experiences at sea," said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises.

Princess ships began homeport cruising in China just last year, with a successful inaugural season of Shanghai-based cruises aboard Sapphire Princess. This ship returns for a second China season which begins on June 4 and runs through October 2015.

The ship will be based on the design of the company's new Royal Princess and Regal Princess which have been enthusiastically received by guests from all over the world for their luxurious and beautifully-designed spaces, array of entertainment and activity options, and multiple culinary venues.

The new ship will share many of these special features which include a dramatic multi-story atrium serving as the social hub of the ship; an over-the-ocean SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; the Princess Live! interactive studio; the largest pastry shop at sea; a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; Princess Watercolor Fantasy, a fountain and music show; Movies Under the Stars featuring the largest outdoor screen at sea; and balconies on all outside staterooms. Accommodations will be configured to appeal to families and multi-generational travelers.

In addition, the new ship will showcase the exclusive Princess Class experience designed specifically for the Chinese market that the company introduced during its first season. Delivered by the ship's dedicated and caring crew, Princess Class enriches the travel experience of each cruise guest, enabling them to participate in unique cultural, culinary, entertaining and inspiring programs including the World Leaders Dinner, traditional English afternoon tea, a Lobster Grill, Ultimate Balcony Dining, an ocean-view hot pot dinner option, ballroom dancing, and an unparalleled duty-free shopping experience.

Additionally guests will enjoy the international flavor of cruising with Princess, including experiencing cuisines from China, Japan, Italy, France, and North and South America among other regions; as well as an array of international festivals re-created to celebrate cultures around the world.

"And as this ship is still in the design phase we are looking forward to creating other new and exciting venues and experiences catering to the Chinese vacationer, which we will reveal in the coming months," Swartz added.

‘Maurice’ the Bear Returns to Lusitania 100 Years After the Ship’s Sinking
Maurice the Bear Returns to Lusitania 100 Years After the Ship’s SinkingMaurice the Bear became a ‘passenger’ on Cunard’s Lusitania’s on her fateful crossing (1 – 7 May 1915) after being purchased by an Englishman who had been working in New York and who was about to return home. He wanted to buy a gift for his young daughter before leaving and decided on a Teddy Bear. He packed the Teddy in his trunk which he delivered to the dock and which was put on Lusitania.

The man was also booked on the same voyage but at the last moment, something happened which forced him to catch the next ship to England, but his trunk was already packed and so went ahead of him.

On 7 May 1915 Lusitania was struck by a torpedo and sank within 18 minutes with the loss of 1,195 lives. The luggage which carried the little bear was later pulled out of the water after Lusitania had sunk and Maurice was finally given to his daughter. Maurice’s current owner, Lorraine Hitchings, will bring him on Queen Victoria which travels to the site of the wreck and to Cobh, Ireland, for the centenary commemorations on 7 May.

Lorraine Hitchings:

"When I first saw him - before I knew anything about his history - I was strangely attracted to him. He kind of oozed history and he makes me feel very humble when I hold him. Taking him back to where it all happened will, I hope, dispel any ghosts that maybe still haunt him. He really is a very special old Teddy Bear."

Norwegian Epic Sails Into Barcelona
Norwegian Cruise Line's largest ship, Norwegian Epic, arrived this morning in Barcelona, Spain to begin her summer season of seven-night Mediterranean sailings. The award-winning Norwegian Epic features a new entertainment line-up for her new homeport, debuting throughout 2015. Two new Broadway shows will take the stage as headliners: Burn the Floor and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - The Musical, coming in October. The ship will also feature an all-new British pop music entertainment experience, The Cavern Club, bringing the legendary Liverpool venue where the Beatles performed to life at sea.

Norwegian Epic Sails Into Barcelona"We are very excited to bring Norwegian Epic back to Europe. With her innovative accommodations and wide array of dining, spa and leisure amenities, she truly is the best ship to sail the Med and beyond", said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line's president and chief operating officer. "The new world-class entertainment offerings that guests can enjoy will even further elevate the guest experience, giving them more options to create their perfect cruise holiday."

Broadway sensation Burn the Floor, which has received rave reviews on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, will bring the sizzle and passion of ballroom dancing to Norwegian Epic with "Ballroom Blitz", an all new and exciting show specifically designed for European guests. Based on the Oscar-winning movie, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - The Musical is the heart-warming, uplifting comedy adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and features a hit parade of dance floor favourites, including "It's Raining Men", "I Will Survive" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". The show will open on the ship's October 18, 2015 voyage along with a whole new entertainment venue created through an exclusive partnership with the owners of Liverpool's The Cavern Club, which will rock guests each evening to the sounds of The Beatles and other international musicians.

Until November 22, 2015, Norwegian Epic will offer 7-night cruises from Barcelona or Civitavecchia (Rome) to the Western Mediterranean, including stops in Naples (Pompeii), Italy; Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy; Cannes, France and Palma, Mallorca, Spain between May 3 and November 22. During the winter season between November 29, 2015 and April 7, 2016, Norwegian Epic will sail alternate 10-night cruises to Morocco, the Canaries, Madeira and Málaga (Granada), and 10-, or 11-, 12-night cruises to the Western Mediterranean including stops in Sardinia, Sicily and Mallorca.

In addition Norwegian Epic will sail two cruises to and from Southampton, England in 2015, marking the first time that the ship has visited the port since the inaugural celebration in June 2010. The ship's 6-night sailing will depart Barcelona on September 20, 2015 and arrive in Southampton on September 26, 2015, with ports of call including Cartagena, Spain; Málaga (Granada), Spain; and Lisbon, Portugal. Following a 22-day dry dock in France, Norwegian Epic will embark on a 7-night Iberian Peninsula cruise from Southampton to Barcelona on October 18, 2015. The ship will visit ports of call including Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Málaga (Granada) and Cartagena, Spain.

Guests looking to celebrate Christmas 2015 on board Norwegian Epic can do so on a 9-night Canary Islands & Morocco itinerary which will be offered on December 19, 2015 and those planning to cruise through the New Year can set sail on December 28, 2015, from Barcelona on a 6-night cruise.

HAL, Carnival and Princess to Offfer 103 Roundtrip Sailings on Six Ships from Port of Seattle this Summer
Holland America Line, Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises – three of the nine global brands from Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK), the world's largest travel and leisure company – will begin the highly anticipated Seattle-to-Alaska summertime cruising season with the first ship departing Saturday, May 2. Cruise passengers in Seattle are expected to increase by 11 percent this year to 895,055 passengers, and the Carnival Corporation brands are positioned to meet the surge in demand.

HAL, Carnival and Princess to Offfer 103 Roundtrip SailingsTogether, the three brands will offer a total of 103 roundtrip cruises on six ships sailing between Seattle and Alaska, providing plenty of options for enjoying a vacation in one of the world's most breath-taking regions. More than 208,200 guests are expected to sail with Carnival Corporation brands from Seattle to Alaska in 2015. According to the Port of Seattle, the cruise industry overall will bring more than $400 million in economic activity to Seattle this cruise season based on a combination of supplying the vessels, money that travelers spend in the city and nearby region, and the fact that 80 percent of guests arrive through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

In response to increasing demand, Holland America Line added a third ship for the 2015 summer season, ms Statendam, which arrives on Monday, May 18. The line's ms Westerdam will officially begin the season on Saturday, May 2, as the first cruise ship to arrive in Seattle. ms Amsterdam arrives on Sunday, May 31. Holland America Line offers 47 roundtrip cruises from Seattle this season.

Additionally, Princess Cruises is increasing its capacity by introducing two larger ships – Crown Princess arrives on Saturday, May 16, and Ruby Princess arrives on Sunday, May 3. They replace the Grand Princess and Golden Princess. Each of the new ships provides room for 500 additional guests. Princess Cruises offers 40 roundtrip cruises from Seattle this season.

Carnival Cruise Line's Legend will arrive at the Seattle port on Tuesday, June 2. This season Carnival Cruises Line offers 16 roundtrip cruises.

"We are excited to begin another great cruise season in Alaska, taking our guests on an unforgettable vacation to the Great Land where they can experience lush forests, ice-blue glaciers, whales, puffins, orcas, and frontier towns filled with Gold Rush history, native culture, wildlife and thrilling adventures – all while only having to unpack once," said Arnold Donald, CEO and president of Carnival Corporation. "The goal for all 120,000 of our employees is to consistently exceed our guests' expectations, and these cruises to such an awe-inspiring part of the world are sure to do just that."

Carnival Corporation's roundtrip vacation options for the Seattle cruise season to Alaska are:

• Holland America Line offers 7-day cruises from Seattle to Alaska on ms Westerdam. Ports include Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park, all in Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia in Canada. Sailings depart Saturdays from Pier 91.

• Holland America Line offers 7-day cruises on ms Amsterdam. Ports include Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and scenic cruising Tracy Arm, all in Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia. Sailings depart Sundays from Pier 91.

• Holland America Line also offers 14-day Alaska itineraries on the ms Statendam departing every other Monday from Pier 91. Ports include Ketchikan, scenic cruising Tracy Arm, Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Anchorage, Homer, Kodiak, scenic cruising Hubbard Glacier, and Sitka, all in Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia.

• Princess Cruises offers 7-day cruises from Seattle to Alaska on the Crown Princess. Ports include Juneau, Skagway, scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park, and Ketchikan, all in Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia. Sailings depart Saturdays and Sundays from Pier 91.

• Princess Cruises offers 7-day cruises from Seattle to Alaska on the Ruby Princess. Ports include Juneau, scenic cruising Tracy Arm Fjord, Skagway, and Ketchikan, all in Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia. Sailings depart Saturdays and Sundays from Pier 91.

• Carnival Cruise Line offers 7-day Alaska cruises on the Carnival Legend departing Tuesdays from Pier 91. Ports include Juneau, Skagway, scenic cruising Glacier Bay, and Ketchikan, all in Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia.

Carnival Corporation brands also offer additional roundtrip cruises to Alaska from Vancouver, British Columbia. Holland America Line offers 7-day cruises on the ms Noordam, ms Oosterdam and ms Volendam, as well as 14-day cruises on ms Oosterdam and ms Zaandam. Princess Cruises offers a 7-day cruise on the Crown Princess and Star Princess in 2016. The following Holland America Line ships offer one-way 7-day cruises departing from Anchorage, Alaska, to Vancouver, British Columbia: ms Oosterdam and ms Zaandam. Carnival Cruise Line will offer a special one-way 7-day cruise from Seattle to Vancouver Sept. 8-15.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 44.33 - 3.25%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 68.23 - 3.16%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.90 + 0.00%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 49.46 - 1.47%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Prior to the introduction of fin stabalizers, some ships used a gyro-stabilizer system to combat rolling. What was the name of the first major liner to use this gyro-stabilizer system?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the last pair of ocean liners to be built with an overhanging, counter stern (...such as on the Titanic and many other early twentieth century ocean liners).

Answer - The last pair of ocean liners to be built with a counter stern were the ss Constitution and the ss Independence of the American Export Line. They served mainly on the southern Trans-Atlantic route serving New York, Lisbon, Gibraltar, and Naples as well as other ports in the Western Mediterranean. They were built in Quincy, MA at the Fore River Shipyard.
courtesy of Larry P Macdonald, Belmont, MA


Cruise News - April 27, 2015

Cunard to Kick Off its 175 celebrations in Southampton with Sailaway
Cunard’s celebrations for its 175 year anniversary will commence in the UK with the arrival home on Sunday 3 May of the Cunard fleet from their World Cruises. This gathering of Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria at Cunard’s homeport will initiate a momentous season of festivities for the company, beginning with a ‘Thank You , Southampton’ event later the same day.

Cunard to Kick Off its 175 celebrations in Southampton with SailawayFor almost 100 years Cunard ships have called Southampton ‘home’ and during that time many spectacular events, royal visits and other special occasions have been shared by the company and the city. To celebrate the beginning of the UK festivities in this milestone year, Cunard’s flagship liner Queen Mary 2 will take centre stage in the afternoon of Sunday 3 May, as she leads her sister ships Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria on a triumphant procession down Southampton Water and into the River Solent, in homage to the city of Southampton.

Cunard’s Marketing Director, Angus Struthers said:

“We’re excited to start our UK 175 festivities in Southampton and share the celebrations with the city and beyond in this magnificent landmark year. For the very first time Queen Mary 2 will lead a daylight parade of Cunard’s Three Queens down Southampton Water and into the Solent. Together with the city, the company has shared so many fantastic memories, and I hope residents and Cunard enthusiasts from far and wide will take advantage of this magnificent sight and enjoy the spectacle of seeing our three Queens manoeuvring together so close to Southampton.”

The sailaway procession will start to get underway at 4.30pm as Queen Mary 2 moves into position to lead the fleet out of Southampton Docks, to be followed by Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. By around 5.20pm the three ships will have passed Dock Head and will be sailing south, led by flagship Queen Mary 2, and reaching Calshot at about 5.50pm.

After zig-zagging through the Brambles turn near Cowes, the fleet will then separate before coming back together again, with Queen Mary 2 easing south and Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria taking a more northerly route and first drawing level with Queen Mary 2 and then overtaking her until at Lee on Solent the fleet forms up again but with the lead given now to Queen Elizabeth, followed by Queen Victoria and then Queen Mary 2. At around 6.45pm Queen Elizabeth, the youngest of the fleet, will lead her sisters past Ryde on the Isle of Wight before reaching the Nab Tower on its easternmost point at 7.30pm.

At this point, the ships will break formation and sail off into the sunset on their own itineraries. Queen Elizabeth will continue east towards Hamburg, Queen Victoria will turn south for St Peter Port in Guernsey and Queen Mary 2 will head west across the Atlantic to New York.

Carnival Victory to Offer New Seven-Day Cruises From San Juan in 2016
Building on its distinction as the Caribbean cruise leader, Carnival Cruise Line will reposition the 102,000-ton Carnival Victory on the line’s popular five-port, seven-day southern Caribbean cruise schedule from San Juan beginning in November 2016.

Carnival Victory to Offer New Seven-Day Cruises From San Juan in 2016Carnival Victory offers a wide range of on-board amenities and features, including more than 500 balcony staterooms that are perfect for watching the breathtaking Caribbean scenery. Carnival Victory will carry an estimated 150,000 guests from San Juan on an annual basis.

In addition, Carnival announced new ships in two key homeports with Carnival Ecstasy shifting to Charleston, S.C., and Carnival Fantasy to Miami in February 2016, providing exciting new “Fun Ship” cruise options in those markets.

“Our popular southern Caribbean cruises from San Juan offer our guests the opportunity to visit five different tropical destinations during their week-long vacation and each of these fantastic ports feature not only spectacular beaches but also a wide variety of sightseeing opportunities and attractions,” said Christine Duffy, Carnival’s president. “At the same time, we’re excited to provide two terrific ‘Fun Ship’ vacation choices with Carnival Ecstasy sailing from Charleston and Carnival Fantasy from Miami,” she added.

Carnival Victory to Offer Seven-Day Cruises From San Juan - Carnival Victory will reposition to San Juan to offer a week-long southern Caribbean cruise schedule beginning Nov. 6, 2016. The itinerary features day-long calls at five magnificent destinations: St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Maarten.

In addition to featuring some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, these destinations offer a wide range of unforgettable landside experiences, from shopping for duty-free bargains in St. Thomas and exploring the majestic volcanic mountains called the Pitons in St. Lucia to visiting centuries-old historic structures in Barbados, soaking up the distinctive Dutch/French atmosphere of St. Maarten and traversing St. Kitts’ lush, mountainous landscape.

On board Carnival Victory, guests can enjoy the ship’s array of amenities, including a luxurious 14,500-square foot spa, four swimming pools – one with a 214-foot-long water slide – along with myriad dining, entertainment and nightlife options, all enjoyed amidst stunning interiors that pay homage to legendary bodies of water.

Carnival Ecstasy to Operate Four- to Seven-Day Cruises From Charleston - Beginning Feb. 6, 2016, Carnival Ecstasy will launch year-round four- to seven-day departures from Charleston, S.C., providing an array of itinerary and cruise duration choices from this popular homeport. On its new schedule, four-day cruises will sail to Nassau and five-day cruises will visit Nassau and Freeport or the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay. Two different seven-day options will be available featuring either Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Nassau or Amber Cove (Dominican Republic), Grand Turk and Half Moon Cay. There will also be three special six-day cruises departing May 23 and Oct. 2 and 30, 2016, and visiting Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay.

Carnival Ecstasy offers a wide range of on-board features, including a WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 300-foot-long water slide, a Serenity adults-only retreat and a tropical-themed resort style pool, along with more than 150 staterooms and suites featuring private balconies.

Carnival Fantasy to Sail Three- and Four-Day Cruises From Miami - Carnival Fantasy, currently based in Charleston, will shift to Miami to operate the line’s popular three- and four-day cruise schedule beginning Feb.22, 2016. On this route, three-day weekend cruises depart Fridays and overnight in Nassau, while four-day voyages depart Mondays and feature Key West and Cozumel. Prior to the start-up of three- and four-day service from Miami, Carnival Fantasy will offer a special five-day cruise to Amber Cove and Grand Turk departing Feb. 17, 2016. Carnival Fascination will assume this route from the Carnival Fantasy beginning Nov. 7, 2016. Details on the Carnival Fantasy’s future deployment will be provided at a later date.

NCL Introduces All-Inclusive Cruising, Now With Free Unlimited Premium Open Bar
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that beginning January 2016 all guests sailing from Miami aboard Norwegian Sky will enjoy an even more all-inclusive cruise experience with dining, entertainment and now free unlimited beer, wine and premium spirits included. Whether they choose white or red, shaken or stirred, on the rocks or straight up, Norwegian Sky guests will revel in the freedom and flexibility of the most inclusive contemporary cruise vacation at sea.

Beginning January 2016 all guests sailing from Miami aboard Norwegian Sky will enjoy free unlimited beer, wine and premium spirits"We're taking Freestyle Cruising to the next level to provide our guests with an experience unmatched by any other contemporary cruise line," said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. "Norwegian Sky guests will have the freedom to enjoy a cruise vacation the way they desire-whether it's lounging by the pool with a margarita, having a laugh at a comedy show, catching up on their favorite book on their balcony, or indulging in fine dining- all included in their cruise fare."

Guests will enjoy for free a variety of unlimited premium spirits, innovative cocktails curated by the award-winning mixologists from Miami's Bar Lab, wines by the glass and bottled or draft beer up to $11 aboard Norwegian Sky in 2016 and beyond*. Guests 3 to 20 years of age will enjoy unlimited sodas and juice throughout their cruise.

Norwegian Sky sails port-packed three- and four-day roundtrip cruises from Miami to the Bahamas year-round. The new all-inclusive experience will also provide guests with the freedom to enjoy unlimited premium beverages while soaking up the sun on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island in the Bahamas.

In addition to the wide variety of inclusive offerings onboard, Norwegian Sky guests also have the option to indulge in a variety of extra onboard experiences such as specialty restaurants and pampering Mandara Spa treatments. While in port, Norwegian Sky guests can also opt to choose from a wide array of shore excursions offering leisure, adventure and cultural experiences including swimming with dolphins, historical island tours, beach time and more.

Norwegian Sky offers a broad selection of staterooms options including spacious suites and penthouses that accommodate up to five guests, balcony staterooms, oceanview staterooms and moderately priced inside staterooms designed with families in mind to accommodate up to four guests. The ship features 13 dining options, 12 bars and lounges, two pools, five hot tubs, an onboard spa, casino and children's programming.

Princess Debuts Top Deck Wine Festival and Whisky Menu
Princess Cruises has announced that Dawn Princess will cruise out of dry dock in May offering Australia’s first beer and wine festivals at sea and a neat new whisky menu.

As part of the multi-million refurbishment in Singapore from May 11 to 24, the Australian-based superliner will become the first ship in Princess Cruises’ worldwide fleet to offer a Beer and Wine Garden Festival experience at sea. To be held twice during every cruise of more than seven days, the new offering will see the top deck transformed into a lively mini festival with marquees showcasing regional beers and wines plus live music.

Princess Debuts Top Deck Wine Festival and Whisky MenuPrincess Cruises Vice President Australia and New Zealand Stuart Allison said the festival was a homegrown idea which had been developed with two of Australians’ favourite things in mind – a beer garden and wine festival. “We’re thrilled to be debuting this exciting Australian-first cruise product on Dawn Princess and think the combination of wine tasting on the top decks and the buzz of an evening festival will really appeal to local cruisers,” Mr Allison said.

In line with the growing trend towards whisky appreciation across all generations, Dawn Princess will also emerge from dry dock with a renovated Wheelhouse Bar offering a comprehensive menu of 56 whiskies including five local tipples: Larks Single Malt and Hellyers Road from Tasmania, Western Australia’s Limeburners Single Malt and Bakery Hill’s Double Wood and Classic whisky from Melbourne.

Mr Allison said the old world charm of Wheelhouse Bar with its dark, moody ambience and the addition of two grand pianos, made it the perfect place to enjoy a whisky whether it was made from Tasmania barley or matured in the Scottish highlands.

In a nod to Australians love of good coffee, a new Italian café called Amuleto will be added to the Horizon Court Buffet, which will become known as the World Fresh Marketplace, offering a new range of cuisines from destinations the cruise line visits, such as Mexican, Brazilian and Asian street food.

Meanwhile the ship’s Lotus Spa will receive a makeover with new treatment rooms, a refreshed reception area and an upgraded sauna. As part of its revitalisation, the spa menu will feature three New Zealand-inspired treatments developed especially for this market including a Healing Kawakawa Massage, a Rotorua Mud Ritual and Manuka Honey Hand and Foot Ritual.

Mr Allison said local cruisers could also look forward to seeing some of the cruise line’s new initiatives with Animal Planet and Discovery at Sea introduced down under, including guided star gazing from the top deck.

The first chance to experience Dawn Princess’ exciting new onboard offerings will be on a 12-night cruise from Singapore to Fremantle departing May 25, 2015, with calls in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Seabourn Partners With Chef Thomas Keller To Create New Menu Items
Dining is about to reach new heights in the cruise industry as Seabourn announces its partnership with world-renowned American chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller. The culinary genius behind a trio of Michelin-starred restaurants – The French Laundry, Per Se, and Bouchon – Keller will bring his award-winning French and American cuisine to the ultra-luxury cruise line in 2015, adding new flavors and flair to complement Seabourn's already celebrated cuisine.

Seabourn Partners With Chef Thomas Keller To Create New Menu ItemsChef Keller will develop an array of dishes, ranging from appetizers to entrees to desserts for multiple dining venues aboard Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn, and Seabourn Quest beginning early fall 2015. The culinary creations will be prepared with high quality ingredients and to exact specifications, resulting in an unrivaled dining experience like no other at sea.

In addition, Seabourn will partner with Keller to introduce a new signature restaurant that will be revealed early next spring on Seabourn Quest before being expanded to the entire fleet, including the line's two new ships designed by Adam D. Tihany – Seabourn Encore launching in late 2016 and Seabourn Ovation launching in early spring 2018. Keller will also advise on various aspects of the line's culinary operations, sharing his expertise and vision.

"There is really no chef more accomplished or held in higher esteem than Chef Keller, and we are both honored and delighted to have a restaurateur of his stature take our onboard culinary offerings to an even higher level," said Seabourn President Richard Meadows. "His culinary talent and sophisticated cuisine are beyond compare and the perfect match for our guests. We have no doubt our guests will be as excited as we are to taste and enjoy Chef Keller's dishes on our ships."

"There's an inherent alignment of our philosophies, which makes our collaboration with Seabourn an exciting new opportunity for our restaurant group. We look forward to sharing our best practices and repertoire with Seabourn's outstanding culinary team," said Thomas Keller, Chef/Proprietor Thomas Keller Restaurant Group.

Long a culinary leader in the cruise industry, Seabourn offers award-winning cuisine and gourmet dining experiences that rival the world's finest restaurants. For the past two years, Seabourn has been honored as the "Best Culinary Cruise Line" in the SAVEUR Culinary Travel Awards for 2013 and 2014.

Seabourn's intimate ships offer key elements that set the line apart: spacious, thoughtfully appointed suites, many with verandas; superb dining in a choice of venues; complimentary open bars throughout the ship; fine wines poured at lunch and dinner; award-winning service and a relaxed, sociable atmosphere that makes guests feel right at home on board. The ships travel the globe throughout the year, sailing to many of the world's most desirable destinations, including marquee cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and lesser-known ports and hideaways.

Keller is globally-renowned for his culinary skills and exceptionally high standards, and has established a collection of 12 restaurants and bakeries that set a new paradigm within the hospitality profession. He is the first and only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings from the prestigious Michelin Guide, as well as the first American male chef to be designated a Chevalier of The French Legion of Honor, the highest decoration in France. He has received countless accolades, including The Culinary Institute of America's "Chef of the Year" Award and the James Beard Foundation's "Outstanding Chef" and "Outstanding Restaurateur" Awards. His restaurant properties are located in Beverly Hills, Yountville, Calif., Las Vegas and New York, and include Per Se, Bouchon Bistro, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc. In January of 2015, as President for Ment'or BKB, a foundation he co-founded with Chefs Daniel Boulud and Jerome Bocuse, he lead Team USA to a historic silver win in the Bocuse d'Or competition in Lyon, France. Chef Keller has also authored five cookbooks and is publisher of Finesse Magazine.

Mrs. Brady to Headline HAL's 'Dancing with the Stars: At Sea' Theme Cruises
Here's the story of a lovely lady who took her dancing shoes on two Holland America Line "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" theme cruises. Florence Henderson — best known as matriarch Carol Brady on the classic hit TV series "The Brady Bunch" and "Dancing with the Stars" Season 11 contestant — is scheduled to join the June 6 and June 13, 2015, theme cruises aboard ms Veendam to Bermuda and Canada and New England, respectively.

Florence Henderson — best known as matriarch Carol Brady on the classic hit TV series The Brady Bunch is scheduled to join the June 6 and June 13, 2015, theme cruisesThe special "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" theme sailings also will feature television personality Carson Kressley and "Dancing with the Stars" professional dancers Tristan MacManus and two-time Mirrorball Trophy winner Kym Johnson who is hot off the current season of the hit ABC television show.

"Florence Henderson is one of the greatest pop culture icons of all time, and we're excited to welcome her to our stage," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Her vibrant personality and infectious smile are sure to bring joy to our guests, along with the other talented celebrities and pro dancers on board."

The June 6 departure is a seven-day Bermuda cruise that sails roundtrip from Boston, Mass, and spends three nights at Hamilton, Bermuda. The seven-day June 13 cruise explores Canada and New England and sails from Boston to Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Each theme cruise features lively guest performances from the professional dancers and celebrities, who dazzle the audience with routines from the television show and exciting new choreographed dances. Additional events on theme cruises include dance lessons with the ship's professional dancers; a special fashion show featuring glamorous show costumes; and a chance to meet the dance pros and celebrities, ask questions and take photos with them.

Beginning with cruises that departed on or after Sept. 21, 2014, and continuing with sailings departing through Nov. 24, 2015, every sailing on all 15 ships in the Holland America Line fleet will feature exclusive "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" programming. Included are complimentary dance lessons with the ship's dance pros and a dance competition that gives guests an opportunity to compete for a chance to represent their ship on the Champions Cruise.

Winners of the guest competitions with the highest scores from each of Holland America Line's ships will win a free ocean-view stateroom for two on the Champions Cruise to compete for the coveted Mirrorball Trophy and title of Holland America Line's "Dancing with the Stars: At Sea" Champion. There will be one winner from each ship on the Champions Cruise sailing aboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam Jan. 10, 2016.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 45.82 - 1.44%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 70.46 - 3.09%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.90 + 0.69%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 50.2 - 2.13%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the last pair of ocean liners to be built with an overhanging, counter stern (...such as on the Titanic and many other early twentieth century ocean liners).

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Beginning in March of 1989, Cunard's QE2 was out of service for 72 days. Why was she out of service?

Answer - RMS Queen Elizabeth was chartered for 72 days by a consortium of Japanese companies.
courtesy of Joe Fermoga


Cruise News - April 20, 2015

Viking Star Sets Sail On Maiden Voyage
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced its first ship, Viking Star, has embarked on her maiden voyage from Istanbul to Venice, thus launching the travel industry's first entirely new cruise line in a decade. From Venice, Viking Star will make her way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened in Bergen, Norway during a citywide celebration on May 17 – Norwegian Constitution Day. Developed from the ground up to return the focus of cruising to the destination, Viking Ocean Cruises also has two additional sister ships on order – Viking Sky and Viking Sea – all of which will sail itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

Viking Star Sets Sail On Maiden Voyage"We have always believed that cruising should be about connecting you to your destination – not just taking you to places on a map. It is our view that in the race to build bigger ships, many cruise lines have lost sight of the destinations to which they sail," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "With our new ocean cruises, we have created a new kind of vessel that is smaller in size and smarter in design, offering an alternative to today's mega liners. Along with our privileged-access excursions and onboard enrichment, we have made the destination the true focus of our new ocean cruises."

Viking Star has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons and accommodates 930 passengers in 465 staterooms – each with its own veranda. Engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, guests have an easy and efficient embarkation and disembarkation, allowing them more time to spend enjoying each destination.

Light-filled with modern Scandinavian décor, Viking Star was designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships. Throughout the ship, details were incorporated to pay homage to Nordic heritage and to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings. A glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessel in its class; huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out; and a wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners.

Onboard Viking Star, clean lines, woven textiles and light wood evoke the Viking spirit of discovery and connection to the natural world. A carefully curated collection of Scandinavian artwork adorns the walls of the restaurants and public spaces. In the two-deck Explorers' Lounge at the bow of the ship, the décor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods – imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cozy pelts. In the Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia is in mind – from the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and the first Snow Room at sea, to materials inspired by Scandinavian nature: Swedish limestone and black slate; juniper and teak wood details; recycled and etched opaque glass; and cast iron. In the Wintergarden, blonde wood "trees" stretch their branches up to the glass ceiling, forming a lattice canopy over a serene space where guests can enjoy afternoon tea service. And in the Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway's Finse Mountain Plateau.

Leveraging extensive feedback and input from Viking River Cruises passengers, Viking Ocean Cruises was developed with experienced travelers in mind. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and "collector ports," appealing to those with an interest in history, art, music, and cuisine.

While onboard, guests will enjoy informative talks from local experts and carefully selected lecturers in The Theater. Dining options onboard Viking Star elevate food as a cultural experience – the World Café features global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens; Mamsen's features Norwegian deli-style fare, according to the recipes of Hagen's mother, Ragnhild, otherwise known as "Mamsen;" and Manfredi's Italian Restaurant embraces authentic Tuscan and Roman cuisine. In the Kitchen Table, the high-tech space offers cooking classes featuring a wide range of regionally inspired dishes and culinary techniques; at night it transforms into an interactive dinner experience with fellow guests and Viking's esteemed chefs.

Royal Caribbean Reports Strong First Quarter Earnings
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) today reported stronger than expected first quarter results and updated its outlook for the full year.

Commercially the year is turning out as expected, with strong booking trends and yield growth for all major products. The strengthening of the US Dollar and the rise in fuel prices are negatively affecting earnings, but cost efficiencies are mitigating a large portion of the impact.

Royal Caribbean Reports Strong First Quarter Earnings"It is gratifying to post another strong quarter with both revenues and expenses exceeding expectations," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and chief executive officer. "Despite ongoing volatility in the currency and fuel markets, our Double-Double program remains solidly on track."

FIRST QUARTER RESULTS - Adjusted Net Income for the first quarter of 2015 was $45.2 million, or $0.20 per share, compared to Adjusted Net Income of $46.1 million, or $0.21 per share, in the first quarter of 2014. Results were approximately $0.08 better than the mid-point of guidance, despite a $0.05 currency and fuel headwind. US GAAP Net Income for the first quarter 2015 was $45.2 million or $0.20 per share compared to $26.5 million or $0.12 per share in 2014.

Net Yields on a Constant-Currency basis decreased 1.0% during the quarter. Strong close-in demand for Caribbean sailings catapulted yields over the top end of guidance and more than offset weaker onboard sales from our internationally sourced guests. Given that the majority of onboard revenue sales are priced in US Dollars, the strengthening of the Dollar reduced the purchasing power of many of our internationally sourced guests, which modestly affected their onboard spend.

Constant-Currency NCC excluding fuel increased 0.9% which is 160 basis points better than guidance, mainly driven by efficiencies. Bunker pricing net of hedging for the first quarter was $597 per metric ton and consumption was 344,000 metric tons.

FULL YEAR 2015 - RCL said that it has updated full year Adjusted EPS guidance to a range of $4.45 to $4.65 from $4.65 to $4.85. The strengthening of the US Dollar and the increase in fuel prices since our January guidance is expected to negatively impact earnings by $0.36. Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to be in the range of up 2.5% to 4.0%, a slight reduction from previous guidance mainly due to the impact of the stronger US Dollar on the purchasing power of our non-US guests.

Net Cruise Costs excluding fuel are expected to be flat to down 1% on a Constant-Currency basis, better than previous guidance of 1% or better.

The fundamentals of the business as well as RCL said that it's focus on the targets associated with the Double-Double program remain on track and are unchanged.

"The business continues to perform well, despite the currency volatility," said Jason T. Liberty, chief financial officer. "Our unwavering commitment to cost consciousness has helped us identify further efficiencies that are driving a significant shift in our cost guidance for the full year. This type of operational focus throughout all facets of our business is a core enabler of our continued financial success."

Overall booking volumes during the first quarter were higher than prior year levels even after adjusting for our increase in capacity. Caribbean itineraries enjoyed particularly strong demand, and bookings were also up year-over-year for Europe and China itineraries. As previously discussed, RCL said that it has taken actions to extend its booking curve, as a result of which booked load factors and APDs are higher than historical levels. More recently, RCL said that it has taken further steps to improve the integrity of its pricing model including steps to eliminate last minute discounting.

Overall, European itineraries are booked at a higher load factor and APD than last year. Western Mediterranean itineraries have been booking well, while trends have been a little weaker for Eastern Mediterranean itineraries, particularly those that turn in Turkey. Demand for China remains strong and bookings have been outpacing expectations despite the significant capacity growth in the region.

Taking into account current fuel pricing, interest rates, currency exchange rates and the factors detailed above, RCL said that it expects 2015 guidance for Adjusted EPS to be in the range of $4.45 to $4.65 per share.

SECOND QUARTER 2015 - Constant-Currency Net Yields are expected to increase approximately 3.5% in the second quarter of 2015. NCC excluding fuel are expected to be up approximately 4.5% on a Constant-Currency basis. Based on current fuel pricing, interest rates and currency exchange rates, the company expects second quarter Adjusted EPS will be approximately $0.70 per share.

Anthem of the Seas Christened
Anthem of the Seas ChristenedRoyal Caribbean International has marked the launch of Anthem of the Seas, the world’s newest, most technologically advanced cruise ship.

The ship hosted a spectacular naming ceremony led by Godmother Emma Wilby who took center stage during the ceremony together with Welsh choir Only Boys Aloud to deliver the performance of her life. Wilby is a British travel agent who was selected for the honor in a singing competition for travel agents.

The world’s most revolutionary cruise ship, Anthem of the Seas is setting sail on the next great adventure. Unprecedented innovations in ship design, thrilling activities, game-changing technology, multidimensional entertainment and robust, flexible dining opportunities come together onboard Anthem to create the ultimate, contemporary cruising experience found only on Royal Caribbean. She spans 18 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, carries 4,180 guests at double occupancy and features 2,090 staterooms.

Anthem of the Seas will sail out of Southampton, U.K. for her inaugural season before departing for New York Harbor and her new homeport of Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, N.J.

MSC Cruises Continues Expansion In North America
MSC Cruises, the world's fourth largest cruise line and largest privately-owned cruise company, announced that when MSC Divina – one of the cruise line's most ultra-modern and elegant ships – returns from her season in the Mediterranean, she will once again sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean starting November 2015.

MSC Cruises Continues Expansion In North America"North America is a key market for MSC Cruises as the company works to double its capacity by 2022," said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises. "Since the arrival of MSC Divina in Miami in November 2013, we've seen significant growth in the market and strong demand by consumers and travel agents for MSC Divina to sail from North America year-round. We're thrilled to be able to meet this demand, providing more opportunity for North American guests to enjoy the unique 'Mediterranean Style Cruise' experience that only MSC Cruises can offer."

MSC Divina's already published November 2015 through April 2016 itineraries will remain unchanged. New itineraries from April 2016 through March 2017 will rotate between Eastern and Western Caribbean routes and include stops in St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico, and the Bahamas.

A testament to the company's long-term commitment to North America, MSC Cruises' also recently announced that MSC Seaside, set to debut in November 2017, will sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean.

"MSC Cruises has received extremely positive ratings from travel agents and guests, who rave about the beauty of our Mediterranean-inspired decor, quality of international cuisine, and world-class, standing-ovation quality entertainment," said Rick Sasso, President of MSC Cruises USA. "Keeping MSC Divina in North America year-round will help us expose even more travel agents and consumers to the MSC Cruises' brand as well as build excitement for the arrival of MSC Seaside in 2017."

"PortMiami welcomed MSC Cruises for the first time in November 2013 with MSC Divina," said PortMiami Director and CEO Juan M. Kuryla. "MSC Divina is among the most modern and elegant ships in the industry today. We are extremely proud to welcome her back home for year-round sailings starting November 2015 and are excited for MSC Seaside to join her at PortMiami a few years later."

In addition, MSC Cruises' Miami-based operations will benefit from a newly renovated and expanded dedicated berth and terminal at PortMiami.

Princess Announces Largest-Ever Australia Deployment for 2016-2017
Princess Cruises has announced it will home port five ships to ports in Australia to sail the cruise line’s largest-ever program offering in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific for the 2016-2017 season. Princess Cruises will introduce the 3,082-guest Emerald Princess to the market, with Golden Princess returning to sail from Melbourne and Sun Princess, Sea Princess and Dawn Princess rounding out the fleet and expanding the cruise line’s in-market capacity by 20 percent.

Princess Announces Largest-Ever Australia Deployment for 2016-2017Highlights of the new program include an 84-day Circle South America voyage, more ways to see New Zealand, longer South Pacific cruises and Circle Australia voyage options. In addition, Land and Sea Vacation packages will immerse adventure-seekers in the diverse destinations.

The new Princess Cruises’ Australia season runs from October 2016 to April 2017. “Australia and the entire South Pacific region has always had an allure as a magical place for travellers, and cruising is one of the best ways to explore this part of the world,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “As demand for the region grows, we’re responding with more voyages, more destinations and more creative itinerary options.”

Cruise-goers can choose from 120 cruise options, in total visiting 113 destinations in 39 countries. Some of the choices include:
• An 84-day Circle South America cruise on Sea Princess departing Sydney, Australia on January 11, 2017 and visiting 28 destinations in 18 countries including Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador and Uruguay. Overnight calls in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Lima and a full-transit of the Panama Canal add to this special voyage.
• More ways to explore the natural wonders of New Zealand with all five Princess ships sailing to the country’s beautiful coastal landscapes on cruises ranging from 11- to 14-days.
• Circle Australia voyages on Sun Princess with departures from Sydney in October 2016 and March 2017 as well as the first-ever roundtrip voyages from Brisbane and Fremantle.
• 10- to 14-day voyages through the idyllic and remote islands of the South Pacific from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne, on Sun Princess and Sea Princess.
• A 42-day four continent voyage from England to Australia on September 28, 2016 aboard Emerald Princess as she sails south for her first-ever season Down Under.
• Two 42-day journeys to the Orient aboard Dawn Princess sailing from Sydney and Brisbane with visits to multiple destinations in China and Japan. The Sydney sailing departing March 16, 2017 is timed to visit Japan during its famous Cherry Blossom season.

To further enhance the cruise vacation experience, Princess Cruises will offer two Land and Sea Vacation packages. The Australian Outback package immerses guests in Aboriginal culture and includes visits to the Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock in Uluru National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The more extensive Ultimate Australia package highlights include a Sydney city tour, the Great Barrier Reef, the northern tropical city of Darwin, the Outback and more.

Disney Adding Enhancements to the Disney Dream This Fall
Exciting new experiences await Disney Dream guests after spaces throughout the Disney Cruise Line vessel are transformed this fall. Headlining the enhancements are two new interactive youth areas, one themed to Star Wars and another to Disney Infinity. Also a whimsical sweet shop serving handmade gelato and the ever-popular Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique will debut after the Disney Dream undergoes dry dock Oct. 4-24, 2015, in Freeport, Bahamas.

Here is a glimpse at what is in store for guests of all ages:

Kids will be transported to a far away galaxy at Star Wars: Millennium Falcon, a Force-filled play areaStar Wars Area Brings Force-filled Fun for Children - A newly themed area in Disney's Oceaneer Club, open to ages three to 12, will delight children with an out-of-this-galaxy experience inspired by the Star Wars saga.

Kids will be transported to a far away galaxy at Star Wars: Millennium Falcon, a Force-filled play area inspired by the spacecraft from the legendary saga. Upon entering the spaceship, younglings will join the Rebel Alliance in the epic battle of good versus evil by assisting with the navigation of this powerful space vehicle. Sitting in the cockpit, children can pilot this super-cool spaceship through hyperspace and trigger lightspeed jumps to different locations around the galaxy.

In Millennium Falcon, children can express their creativity through Star Wars-themed crafts, games and activities. They can also watch episodes from the new Disney XD animated series, "Star Wars Rebels," on a large screen or virtually join the rebellion at gaming stations featuring the series' action-packed adventures.

The excitement continues during a shipboard version of the popular Jedi Training Academy experience that invites young Jedi hopefuls –known as "Padawans" –to learn lightsaber moves from a Jedi Master. They can then use the Force and face off in a final test against the evil Darth Vader.

High-Tech Disney Infinity Space Adds Adventure for Kids - Also in the Oceaneer Club,a high-tech interactive space based on the Disney Infinity video game offers more fun for kids.

In the Disney Infinity Toy Box area, children can experience a whole new way of playing together with exciting virtual experiences and immersive activities. Customized, on-screen adventures will bring to life characters and stories from across The Walt Disney Company.

The complete set of Disney Infinity character figures will be on display for creative inspiration and available for gameplay. Kids visiting this special room–found only on the Disney Dream – will be able to unlock exclusive Disney Cruise Line content that they can continue to enjoy when playing Disney Infinity at home.

Special activities will bring the virtual gameplay experience to life in the real world. For example, a life-sized Disney Infinity Base sets the stage where children take the place of character figures for a group gaming experience unlike any other. Lighting up in response to gameplay on a large screen, this interactive floor will allow kids to be immersed in the Toy Box.

Specialty Sweet Shop for Families - Vanellope's Sweets & Treats will satisfy the sweet tooth of cruisers of all ages,with handmade gelato and ice cream, an assortment of candy,and delectable novelty treats for purchase. New to Deck 11, the smell of freshly baked waffle cones and candy will linger from the specialty store's two entrances, inside Cabana's restaurant and outside by the pool deck.

Resembling the whimsical candy land of the Sugar Rush race car game in "Wreck-It Ralph," the sweet shop's decor features nods to the film, including a race track and checkerboard patterned floor, gas pump-style gumball dispensers, Vanellope's race car and King Candy's throne.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, coming to Deck 5 midship, will bring to life the storybook fantasies of young guests with pixie-dusted and piratical makeovers. This very special salon will offer aspiring princesses and knights ages three to 12 the chance to transform into royalty with the help of a fairy godmother-in-training. On pirate party night this boutique becomes The Pirates League where swashbuckling pirates of all ages will have the opportunity to unleash their inner buccaneer.

Exclusively for adults, Deck 13 forward will include a new water feature, Satellite Falls, a circular splash pool with benches and a gently falling rain curtain that provides cool comfort. Around this upper deck, adult guests can soak up the sun in loungers or relax in the shade under a canopy.

This wave of enhancements to the Disney Dream debuts on the Oct. 26 four-night voyage from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and Disney's private island, Castaway Cay. The Disney Dream will continue to sail three- and four-night cruises from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas throughout 2015 and into 2016.

MSC Cruises' First Next Generation Ship Named "MSC Meraviglia"
MSC Cruises, the world's largest privately-owned cruise company, marked a key milestone in its $5.4 billion growth plan today as the first steel for its new Vista generation of megaships was cut at STX France, during a ceremony in Saint-Nazaire.

At the steel-cutting ceremony, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago told assembled press and dignitaries that the cutting-edge 4,500 guest (double occupancy), 167,600-GRT ship — due to be delivered in May 2017 and open for bookings from June 2015 — will be named MSC Meraviglia. She will spend her first summer sailing the western Mediterranean, and will be the first to have three homeports: Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona.

MSC Cruises' First Next Generation Ship Named MSC Meraviglia"MSC Meraviglia will be the biggest and most innovative cruise ship ever built by a global European-based cruise line," said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman. "We chose a name that denotes the sense of awe and wonderment felt when you experience the ship's stunning features, which only an MSC cruise, with its unique Mediterranean-style, can deliver. MSC Meraviglia brings together the industry knowhow of MSC Cruises, a young, bold company built upon 300 years of seafaring tradition and the expertise of one of the most advanced shipyards in the world. Today, building started on a true maritime marvel."

STX France General Manager Laurent Castaing added: "Since March 2014, more than 400 people from our various teams have been working tirelessly to define the special features of a ship that, I am certain will set the standard for its generation. This extraordinary project is testament to MSC Cruises' visionary approach, and we are proud to collaborate with them through our capacity for innovation and know-how."

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer said: "This steel-cutting event marks a decisive milestone in the company's development plan, one that will see MSC Cruises double its capacity by 2022 through up to seven new ships and a $5.4 billion investment plan."

He added: "MSC Meraviglia will be one of the greenest and safest ships in the industry, as well as one of the most technologically advanced. We are thrilled that in just a few weeks guests can start booking this truly remarkable ship, which will bring cruise travellers to the most exciting destinations around the world in outstanding comfort and style."

Designed for unrivalled agility, MSC Meraviglia and the other upcoming Vista project ships will be perfectly able to call at any cruise port in the world, meaning guests from around the world will now be able to explore more of the best destinations on one of MSC Cruises' next generation ships.

Among the ships' manifold features will also be specially crafted 'cluster cabins' for families, and an extended MSC Yacht Club, the wholly self-contained luxury area on the prestigious foredecks, which will be enhanced with duplex suites, a vast solarium and a private lounge and restaurant. They will be packed with extraordinary features that make them ideal for cruising in summer and winter, including wide dining options and entertainment choices, stunning panoramic spaces, a large theatre and a spectacular amusement park linked to an outdoor aqua park, as well as a three-deck interior promenade.

MSC Meraviglia will also feature a range of technological advancements, such as 'Near Field Communication' technology, enabling guests to do things like make onboard payments, access their staterooms or geo-locate children, simply by using their cruise card, bracelet or smartphone. Another jaw-dropping feature will be a 5,167 square foot LED screen, which forms the entire ceiling of the ship's interior promenade. Like a digital sky, this LED image vault will beam out compelling images and vistas day and night – including scheduled visual events – creating a variety of powerful atmospheres at all times.

MSC Meraviglia is the first of two identical ships on order from STX France, the second of which will be entered in to service in 2019. In addition, MSC Cruises has options for two further Vista project ships to be delivered by 2022.

The Vista project is the result of a lengthy development process under STX's ECORIZON® program to create cleaner, smarter, more efficient ships. They will be water emission free, and their hulls and propulsion systems will be optimized for extreme energy efficiency. Scrubber technology will neutralize fumes and CO2 emissions in accordance with the latest international maritime regulations. In addition, the ship is fully compliant with the Safe return to Port requirement.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.49 + 2.80%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 72.71 - 9.10%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.88 + 1.05%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 51.29 - 4.63%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Beginning in March of 1989, Cunard's QE2 was out of service for 72 days. Why was she out of service?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which famous former liner served as James Bond's headquarters in the film "The Man with the Golden Gun"?

Answer - James Bond's headquarters in the film "The Man with the Golden Gun" was aboard the wreck of the Queen Elizabeth in Hong Kong harbor.
courtesy of Manuela Flynn


Cruise News - April 13, 2015

Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas Arrives
Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship, Anthem of the Seas, sailed into Southampton Cruise Port today with a lineup of unexpected experiences at sea bringing thrilling adventures to guests of all ages. From the RipCord by iFLY sky diving experience and the North Star, a glass observation capsule that takes guests more than 300 feet above the ocean, to futuristic entertainment, a robust culinary experience and game-changing technology that encompasses everything from robotic bartenders to superfast wireless connectivity, Anthem of the Seas will allow guests to vacation like never before.

Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral in December 2016 to offer two different seven-day Caribbean itinerariesAnthem of the Seas will sail her inaugural spring and summer season from her homeport of Southampton, U.K., offering Europe and Mediterranean itineraries. In fall 2015 she will cross the Atlantic to make Cape Liberty Cruise Port in New York Harbor her permanent home, sailing to the Caribbean. No matter where she is or what water she’s plying, Anthem will treat guests to an incomparable vacation experience that can only be found on Royal Caribbean. Highlights of Anthem of the Seas include:

Endless experiences await guests onboard Anthem of the Seas, with thrills that can only be found on Royal Caribbean. From North Star,providing guests breathtaking, panoramic views from 300 feet above sea level, to RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea, and SeaPlex, the largest indoor active space at sea that is complete with bumper cars, a circus school, roller skating and more, there is no end to the fun that can be found onboard.

Be it day or night, Anthem of the Seas will keep guests inspired and entertained. An extraordinary lineup of multidimensional entertainment onboard Anthem of the Seas will delight guests of all ages in a variety of state-of-the-art venues, including Two70, where a combination of live performers and technology come together to deliver spectacular, multidimensional shows and events that have never before been seen on land, let alone at sea. The Royal Theater is home to the ship’s two main shows, “We Will Rock You” and “The Gift,” while Music Hall, the hottest live music venue at sea, keeps guests rocking and dancing the night away.

Anthem of the Seas features a fresh approach to cruise ship dining, thanks to a robust culinary experience that allows guests to customize their onboard dining experience to best meet their varying palates and preferences. An all-new Dynamic Dining experience gives guests a selection of 18 restaurant concepts, including five complimentary main dining restaurants, along with the opportunity to choose between Dynamic Dining Choice, which allows guests to decide when, where, and with whom to dine each evening, and Dynamic Dining Classic, which is designed for those who prefer a more traditional experience. In addition, Anthem of the Seas features a lineup of specialty dining restaurants, as well as partnerships with world-renowned chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Michael Schwartz, and Devin Alexander.

From ultrafast Wi-Fi and RFID technology, to virtual views from interior staterooms and robots that can mix up a mean cocktail, Anthem of the Seas, is packed with a bold lineup of technological advancements that will impress even the most tech-savvy modern traveler. Designed to seamlessly deliver unprecedented guest vacation experiences at sea, technology is prevalent throughout the ship, substantially increasing guest convenience and efficiency and ensuring a cruise onboard Anthem of the Seas is nothing but smooth sailing.

Carnival To Expand Capacity On Short Cruises
Carnival Cruise Line will build upon its leadership position in Port Canaveral, Fla., expanding capacity on three- and four-day Bahamas cruises by 34 percent and deploying its newest class of ship on seven-day Caribbean voyages in 2016.

Carnival will enhance its short Bahamas cruise program from Port Canaveral with Carnival Victory replacing Carnival Sensation on this popular route in February 2016. The move not only increases capacity on the three- and four-day cruises but also provides guests with a greater variety of on-board features and amenities, including more than 500 balcony staterooms aboard Carnival Victory.

Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral in December 2016 to offer two different seven-day Caribbean itinerariesAdditionally, Carnival Magic will reposition to Port Canaveral in December 2016 to offer two different seven-day Caribbean itineraries, providing consumers with exciting new week-long cruise vacation choices from Central Florida. Carnival Magic is part of the line's newest class of ship and offers such features as a WaterWorks aqua park, Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian restaurant and SportSquare outdoor recreation area.

In turn, Carnival Sensation, which boasts WaterWorks, Serenity adults-only retreat and numerous other features, will shift to Miami in February 2016 to operate the line's attractive and convenient year-round four- and five-day cruise schedule.

"We are significantly 'upping our game' in Port Canaveral with the addition of these great new ships to the important and growing Central Florida market," said Christine Duffy, Carnival's president. "When these ships join the spectacular Carnival Sunshine, this dynamic trio of 'Fun Ships' will offer our guests and valued travel agent partners the widest array of attractive and convenient cruising options from the Space Coast," she added.

Expanded Capacity on Short Cruises from the Space Coast - Carnival Victory, currently based in Miami, will reposition to Port Canaveral to launch a schedule of three- and four-day cruises beginning Feb. 25, 2016, dramatically expanding the line's capacity on this program. On this route, three-day cruises depart Thursdays and visit Nassau, while four-day cruises depart Sundays and call at both Nassau and Freeport.

In addition to providing a newer, larger ship on short cruises from Central Florida, Carnival Victory boasts a variety of on-board features, including a 14,500-square-foot spa, four swimming pools – one with a 214-foot-long water slide – along with 18 lounges and bars whose stunning interiors are inspired by the world's most famous bodies of water.

During their time in the Bahamas, guests can relax on gorgeous white-sand beaches, enjoy numerous shopping, dining and sightseeing opportunities and partake in a wide range of watersports, from snorkeling and scuba diving to kayaking, parasailing and deep-sea fishing.

In October 2016, Carnival Valor -- currently based in Port Canaveral and scheduled to undergo an extensive dry dock in March 2016 that will add a variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations -- will take over Carnival Victory's three- and four-day Bahamas cruises from Central Florida on a year-round basis. Carnival Valor will be the only ship operating three- and four-day cruises to offer the line's highly acclaimed Fun Ship 2.0 features. Carnival Victory will subsequently move to another homeport.

Exciting New Seven-Day Choices from Port Canaveral - Carnival Magic will kick off its Port Canaveral-based program with a special eight-day cruise departing Dec. 9, 2016, and featuring St. Thomas, San Juan, Amber Cove (Dominican Republic), and Grand Turk. The ship will then launch year-round seven-day cruises from Port Canaveral Dec. 17, 2016, offering two distinctly different week-long itineraries – a western Caribbean route featuring Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan) and Costa Maya; and an eastern Caribbean option calling at St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk and Nassau or Amber Cove.

Carnival Magic features a wide variety of Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, including a massive WaterWorks aqua park featuring a 312-foot-long Twister water slide, the DrainPipe funnel-style water slide and a 300-gallon PowerDrencher tipping bucket, along with an expansive SportSquare outdoor recreation area highlighted by a suspended ropes course with breathtaking views to the sea 150 feet below, and a Caribbean-inspired watering hole called RedFrog Pub.

Carnival Magic will join Carnival Sunshine which offers seasonal five- to eight-day Caribbean voyages from Port Canaveral and is the only ship in the Carnival fleet to offer all of the line's Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, along with unique features like the Speedway Splash water attraction, Ji Ji Asian Kitchen and the Latin-infused Havana Bar.

Special 12-Day Carnival Journeys Cruise on Carnival Magic - In preparation for its Space Coast debut, Carnival Magic will offer a special 12-day Carnival Journeys cruise departing Galveston Nov. 27 and arriving in Port Canaveral on Dec. 9, 2016. Featured ports will include Cozumel; Limon, Costa Rica; Colon, Panama; Cartagena and Santa Marta, Colombia; Aruba, and Grand Turk. Carnival Journeys is a unique collection of nine- to 15-day voyages featuring exotic, less visited ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and Hawaii and offering a number of exclusive on-board experiences and activities.

Carnival Sensation's New Miami-Based Short Cruise Program - Carnival Sensation will reposition from Port Canaveral to Miami to offer year-round four- and five-day cruises featuring top ports in the Caribbean, Mexico, The Bahamas, and Florida beginning Feb. 25, 2016. On Carnival Sensation's new Miami-based schedule, four-day cruises depart Thursdays visiting Key West and Cozumel or the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, and Nassau, while five-day cruises depart Mondays and Saturdays featuring some of the top ports throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas, including Grand Turk, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Amber Cove, Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay.

NCL Adds Complimentary Asian Restaurants Across Fleet
Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that many of the line's popular Asian dining venues can now be enjoyed on a complimentary basis across the fleet. Guest favorites like Shanghai's Noodle Bar aboard Norwegian's Breakaway Class ships and Norwegian Epic, Jasmine Garden aboard Norwegian Jade, Chin Chin aboard Norwegian Jewel and more will join the extensive list of complimentary dining venues available to Freestyle cruising guests.

NCL Adds Complimentary Asian Restaurants Across FleetAs a part of the Norwegian NEXT program, Norwegian Cruise Line is investing significantly into enhancing guests' dining experience onboard and offering even more culinary options to provide the best cruise vacation experience. As a part of these new initiatives, the cover charge and à la carte pricing for many Asian dining concepts across the fleet has been eliminated to further enhance guest satisfaction and provide guests more freedom to create their ideal cruise vacation.

"Norwegian's Freestyle Dining is the most fun and flexible way for guests to enjoy some of the best dining experiences at sea, when they want and how they want," said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. "We are thrilled to continue that legacy by providing guests with more of the food they have come to love and enjoy with the introduction of fleetwide complimentary Asian cuisine."

Guests cruising aboard Norwegian's Freestyle Cruising ships can indulge in favorites like fried rice, spicy seafood udon noodles, steamed pork dumplings and more free of charge at the following venues:
• Orchid Garden, Norwegian Gem
• Lotus Garden, Norwegian Pearl
• Chin Chin, Norwegian Jewel
• Jasmine Garden, Norwegian Jade
• Shanghai's, Norwegian Epic
• Shanghai's Noodle Bar, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway
• East Meets West, Pride of America
• Shogun, Norwegian Spirit
• Bamboo, Norwegian Dawn
• Ginza, Norwegian Star
• Shangai's Noodle Bar, Norwegian Epic

Norwegian's popular Teppanyaki restaurants will continue to provide guests with the showmanship and culinary delights of Japanese iron-griddle cooking for a per guest cover charge, and Sushi venues across the fleet will retain nominal à la carte pricing.

Celebrity Introduces New Shore Excursion Program
Inspired by vacationers' desire to connect to the world in a meaningful and authentic way, Celebrity Cruises has launched a new shore excursion program with an array of unique global experiences. Featuring special-interest categories and more than 70 new shore excursions , guests can discover a destination through activities designed to match their interests.

Celebrity Introduces New Shore Excursion ProgramFrom immersive sightseeing tours and wellness experiences to fully customizable "Private Journeys" and premium "Celebrity Exclusives," the new shore excursions lineup presents vacationers with unique introductions to the sights, sounds and flavors of the world. Celebrity is offering four new types of experiences for guests to choose from:

"Uniquely Celebrity": Exclusive, upscale adventures in far-off destinations only available on Celebrity Cruises, which include:

• A luxurious day spent as a Sultan in Istanbul, Turkey
• The opportunity to row across the deep blue glaciers in Ketchikan, Alaska
• A zero to sixty Ferrari adventure in Cannes, France

"Culture and Locale": Culturally focused experiences for vacationers who are inspired to go beyond the shores and straight to the heart of each locale:

• An enchanting evening experience of classical music, champagne, rare works of art at the world-famous Faberge Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
• Live concert event in the 14th-century, secret Basilica del Pi in Barcelona, Spain

"Lifestyle and Wellness": Guests can set their pace and choose to focus on creativity, rejuvenation, lifestyle and wellness to nurture mind, body and soul:

• A scenic, guided nature walk in spectacular Melbourne, Australia
• An interactive and enriching wellness experience in Skagway, Alaska

"Family": Enriching experiences, sightseeing journeys and competitive adventures for the whole family that uncover rich history and culture:

• A family Flamenco dance-off in Barcelona, Spain
• Exhilarating sailing plus a mini regatta in Kings Wharf, Bermuda
• A castle and treasure hunt adventure in Copenhagen, Denmark

"Our guests' passions are rooted in interests as diverse as the world itself, and our new shore excursion program will give vacationers the chance to fulfill their love of food, art, relaxation, adventure and more in must-see, global destinations,” said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises. "We’ve closely collaborated with local experts to shape a program that will further enrich a vacationer’s experience and connect them more closely to the exciting places that we sail to."

Celebrity also has launched more than 70 new excursions including exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences at globally recognized landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, as well as enriching, interactive wellness experiences such as a tour of the lush Jewell Gardens in Alaska – and with more to come.

Princess Appoints New Vice President of Public Relations
Princess Cruises has appointed Brian O’Connor to the role of vice president, public relations, effective June 1. He succeeds Julie Benson who will retire May 29, after 32 years of service. In this role, O’Connor will lead the team accountable for media relations, publicity, social media, community relations, ship introductions and special events. He will drive messaging for product and program launches and be responsible for issues management and crisis communications. He will also oversee the collaboration among the international public relations teams in the United Kingdom, Australia and throughout Asia.

Princess Appoints New Vice President of Public Relations“Brian brings more than 15 years of experience in strategic planning and creative campaign development to this integral role for Princess Cruises,” said Gordon Ho, senior vice president of global marketing and North America sales. “Princess will benefit from his leadership and his track record of developing and executing high-profile initiatives that will shape the narrative of our global brand and increase awareness among key audiences including media, retailers, consumers and employees,” added Ho.

O’Connor joined the company in 2006 as director, public relations for Cunard Line elevating awareness for the brand in North America through such high-profile initiatives as Queen Mary 2 appearing in the premier episode of the hit series Mighty Ships created by Discovery Channel, the Britannia Ball gala fundraiser for the New York City Opera and the first performances by James Taylor and his band on a transatlantic crossing. He’s supported the launch of Queen Victoria with press events by partnering with NYC & Company and staging the first three Queens Cunard Royal Rendezvous in New York in 2008. He was promoted to director, marketing and public relations in 2009 and supported the launch of Queen Elizabeth in 2010.

In 2012, O’Connor was appointed vice president, North America sales, responsible for leading the field sales team representing both Princess and Cunard. He is credited with strengthening trade relations and growing distribution with North America retail partners. As he transitions from sales he will complete his service as chairman of the CLIA Trade Relations Committee. Interviews to identify his successor are underway.

Prior to joining Cunard, O’Connor served as director of public relations at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, where he was accountable for publicity and media relations for more than 125 events annually ranging from red carpet charity galas and political fundraisers to numerous award shows including The Golden Globe Awards.

In addition to positions held at Princess and Cunard, O’Connor is a past president and five term board member of the Public Relations Society of America – Los Angeles Chapter (PRSA-LA). He is also a graduate of the Protocol School of Washington’s protocol officer training and certification and is a member of Protocol Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association (PDI-POA).

O’Connor is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Communication Arts & Sciences.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.83 + 0.15%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 79.99 - 2.81%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.85 + 2.15%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 53.78 - 0.20%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which famous former liner served as James Bond's headquarters in the film "The Man with the Golden Gun"?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Which famous French liner caught fire in April 1939 while tied up at her pier and capsized the next morning from having too much water poured onto her upper decks?

Answer - This liner was the PARIS. She burned in the port of LE HAVRE and wreck stayed 10 years on place because of war, and was scraped on place.
courtesy of Fernando Molina, Seville, Spain.


Cruise News - April 6, 2015

Royal Caribbean Announces Godmother for Anthem of the Seas
Royal Caribbean International today announced that travel agent Emma Wilby, 27, from Sunderland, U.K., is the Godmother for the world’s newest and most advanced cruise ship Anthem of the Seas. Upholding a timeless maritime tradition, Ms. Wilby will officially christen Anthem of the Seas and perform a special song for more than 1,300 invited special guests and dignitaries at the ship’s inaugural ceremony in Southampton, U.K., on April 20, 2015. Designed to revolutionize the industry, Anthem of the Seas will sail its inaugural season from Southampton before the ship repositions to its permanent homeport of New York in November.

Royal Caribbean announced that Emma Wilby is the Godmother for Anthem of the Seas“We are delighted to welcome Emma Wilby into the Royal Caribbean family as Anthem of the Seas’ Godmother,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Emma is among many submissions from truly talented travel agents across the U.K. and the judging was very difficult. We thank all travel agents, who we value and are honoring by naming a fellow travel agent as the Godmother of our newest ship.”

In addition to being a travel agent for Thomson, Ms. Wilby is a military wife and budding singer who performs in the Military Wives Choir in Kinloss, Scotland, where she is based with her husband, a Royal Engineer for the British Army. To help her prepare for inaugural day, Craig Yates, Team Captain from British choir group Only Boys Aloud will be Ms. Wilby’s vocal coach, and Royal Caribbean is treating her to a full makeover.

“Emma’s inaugural song will herald in a ship that will be a new anthem for the cruise industry,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “I am very much looking forward to Emma’s performance and launching Anthem of the Seas with her. I know she will be simply spectacular.”

The Godmother role is a lifetime title bestowed upon an individual, who figuratively presides over the ship and imparts good luck and divine protection over the vessel and all that sail aboard. Traditionally, Godmothers have celebrity status or even royal connections, such as Royal Caribbean Godmothers Gloria Estefan, Jane Seymour, Whoopi Goldberg and Steffi Graf, to name a few.

“I still can’t believe I won,” said Ms. Wilby after being informed of her new title earlier this week. “I am really honored to have been chosen. I am hugely excited to be taking on the role of Godmother for Anthem of the Seas – it will be incredible to sing in front of all these people and a real honor to give the ship the best sendoff possible.”

HAL's ms Koningsdam to Homeport at Port Everglades Following Inaugural Europe Season
Following its inaugural Europe season in 2016, Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam will homeport at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The ship will sail a series of Caribbean voyages and one cruise to the Bahamas from November 2016 through March 2017. Koningsdam's Caribbean itineraries will be available for booking in late spring.

The seven-day cruises visit popular ports in the region, while the longer nine-, 10- and 11-day itineraries provide more time for exploring and include a diverse array of islands with exciting, off-the-beaten-path calls. A four-day cruise to the Bahamas kicks off the Caribbean season. All voyages are roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale.

HAL's ms Koningsdam to Homeport at Port Everglades Following Inaugural Europe Season"We are excited to sail Holland America Line's newest ship from Port Everglades on the most varied and robust Caribbean itineraries of any of our ships," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "The Caribbean remains among the most popular cruise destinations in the world, and by having itineraries that range from four to 11 days guests will be able to enjoy a vacation that fits their schedule."

Four-day Bahamas Cruise - Koningsdam begins its inaugural season in the Caribbean with a four-day cruise to the Bahamas departing Nov. 9, 2016. Following an overnight in Fort Lauderdale, the ship calls at Nassau followed by Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line's award-winning private island. The voyage is the perfect way to sample Holland America Line's new Pinnacle-class ship.

Seven-day Caribbean Cruises & Holiday Sailing - Two different seven-day itineraries provide an ideal getaway in winter, when the balmy breezes of the Caribbean beckon. The first itinerary sails Jan. 8 and 29 and Feb. 12, 2017, calling at Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Half Moon Cay. The second itinerary departs Jan. 15 and Feb. 5, 2017, and visits Half Moon Cay; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; and Key West, Fla. The two itineraries can be combined to create a nonrepeating 14-day Caribbean Collectors' Voyage.

For the holidays, the Dec. 23, 2016, departure falls over Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, making it the most festive of voyages. The seven-day cruise will visit Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay.

Nine-day Caribbean Cruises Include a New Year's Option - Guests looking for a slightly longer Caribbean vacation can embark Dec. 14, 2016, for a nine-day voyage that showcases six popular ports. The ship calls at Half Moon Cay; Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts; San Juan; and Grand Turk.

Another nine-day voyage departing Dec. 30 rings in the New Year with fun, sun, sand and surf. The ship will call at Falmouth, Jamaica; Half Moon Cay; Grand Turk; Georgetown, Cayman Islands; Cozumel and Key West.

10-day Caribbean Cruises Feature Southern Caribbean - From the turquoise waters of the Dominican Republic to the powdery beaches of the ABC Islands, Koningsdam's 10-day itinerary highlights some of the most beautiful ports in the region. Departing Nov. 13 and Dec. 4, 2015, and Feb. 19 and March 12, 2016, the cruises call at Half Moon Cay; Grand Turk; the exclusive cruise port of Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Willemstand, Curacao; and Oranjestad, Aruba.

11-day Caribbean Cruises Offer Blend of Several Ports - The eastern Caribbean takes center stage on the 11-day voyages that depart Nov. 23, 2016, and March 1 and 22, 2017. Koningsdam will visit the ports of Philipsburg; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Basseterre; St. Thomas; and Half Moon Cay. Guests aboard also will enjoy scenic cruising in Soufriere Bay and past the famed Mount Pelee volcano.

Cunard Unveils 2016 Itineraries
This week, Cunard announces its 2016 main program of cruises, where between May and December the fleet will travel over 205,000 nautical miles visiting incredible places across Europe and around the World. Between them Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will call at 100 destinations in 34 different countries, including five maiden calls. Each cruise, whether it’s a three-night short break or a 24- night Caribbean round trip will deliver luxury on a grand scale for all those on board.

Program Highlights:
• Five maiden calls for the fleet: Gaspe (Canada), Genoa (Italy), Pointe-a-Pitre (Guadeloupe), Saguenay (Canada) and Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides. Top 10 destinations in 2016: Boston, (USA), Cagliari (Italy), Flaam (Norway), Monte Carlo (Monaco), Mykonos (Greece), Philipsburg (Saint Maarten), Quebec (Canada), St Petersburg (Russia), Tallinn (Estonia) and Venice (Italy).
• 10 overnight calls in spectacular destinations: Amsterdam (Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), Istanbul (Turkey), Madeira (Portugal), Geiranger (Norway), Quebec (Canada), Reykjavik (Iceland), Boston, (USA), St Petersburg (Russia) and Venice (Italy).
• 14 Evenings in port (ship departs 2100 hours or later): Barcelona (Spain), Bergen (Norway), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Invergordon (UK), Kotor (Montenegro), Kusadasi (Turkey), Madeira (Portugal), Monte Carlo (Monaco), Mykonos (Greece), Istanbul (Turkey), Tenerife (Spain), Trieste (Italy) and Valencia (Spain).
• Verona Opera event cruises: In 2016 the Mediterranean Fly program provides an opportunity for passengers to attend the Arena di Verona Opera festival. It is a summer festival of opera located in the city of Verona, Italy. Large-scale opera performances are given in an ancient Roman amphitheatre, which was capable of holding 30,000 spectators. Performances traditionally begin at dusk and spectators are given small candles to light as darkness falls and the performances begin, creating a unique and truly unforgettable atmosphere. There are three opportunities where an overnight stay in Venice will allow passengers to take an evening tour to Verona and these can be taken on seven-, 14 and 21-night sailings.

Cunard Unveils 2016 ItinerariesAccording to Angus Struthers, Cunard Director, “Cunard’s 2016 main program offers incredible richness and variety, with itineraries that appeal to all. From three-night short European breaks to more exotic 24- night Caribbean cruises, with cruises departing from the comfort of our home port, Southampton, to fly cruising in the Mediterranean, all on board our iconic three ship fleet.

"And, of course, our flagship, Queen Mary 2, as the world’s greatest liner, will continue to provide an experience that is truly unique in travel – our Transatlantic Crossings to or from New York."

“Research has shown that it is important to strike the right balance between port days and sea days on any cruise. This is even more important on a Cunard cruise because the ships are a destination in themselves. The 2016 itineraries have been designed to offer plenty of time on board for passengers to relax and experience all the ships have to offer.

“All Cunard cruises in 2016 have a sea day on the first day of the voyage so that passengers can settle in and familiarize themselves with the ship; the majority of the cruises also have a sea day on the day before disembarkation to allow passengers time to relax and pack before leaving.

“The destinations visited are one of the main reasons why people choose to take a cruise. The most iconic destinations all share qualities exemplified by Cunard such as history, glamour, romance and renown. Our 2016 cruises focus on our top-rated ports, which continually receive the highest scores for customer satisfaction, and passengers can visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Pier Head in our ‘spiritual’ home in Liverpool where the magnificent Cunard Building stands. The Building celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016 and we’re delighted Queen Elizabeth will be calling at Liverpool to salute this icon”.

Transatlantic Crossings

A Transatlantic Crossing on Queen Mary 2 is to many the ultimate Cunard experience, the most luxurious way to travel between the Old and New Worlds. Cunard’s Transatlantic Crossings are unique in being the only regular Transatlantic service and the world’s only remaining true ocean liner experience. Queen Mary 2 will make 19 Atlantic between Southampton and New York or vice versa, from May to December 2016, split into three main voyage types:


• Standard crossings in seven-nights
• Crossings in eight-nights
• Crossings in eight-nights calling at Halifax which has historical significance for Cunard as it is the birthplace of the company founder Samuel Cunard and was one of the main way ports on the historic early Transatlantic Crossings.

Transatlantic crossings include one-way flight, flight from / to New York, transfers between the ship and the airport and on board spending money of between $50 - $195 per person.

In 2016, Queen Victoria will be operating a pair of Transatlantic Crossings for the first time ever. These voyages will have a duration of nine-nights and each will feature either Halifax or Cobh as an additional port of call:


• V605 – Transatlantic West, departing Southampton 22 May 2016, calling at Halifax, Nova Scotia en route to New York.
• V606 – Transatlantic East departing 31 May 2016, calling at Cobh, Ireland en route to Southampton.

Cunard Unveils 2016 ItinerariesMediterranean fly cruises

Queen Victoria will operate an exciting series of Mediterranean holidays from July to November offering:
• Seven-, 14- or 21-night holidays
• The “best of the Med” destinations, covering the Western, Central and Eastern Mediterranean regions
• 26 different ports
• A choice of four different embarkation ports - Rome, Venice, Athens, and Barcelona
• Overnight stays in Venice, Istanbul and Barcelona
• Late evening departures in Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Istanbul, Kotor, Monte Carlo, Mykonos, Naples, Trieste and Valencia.

Queen Victoria’s 14-night ‘Venice, Greek Islands and Istanbul’ cruise departs Venice on 22 August and calls at Korcula, Crete, Rhodes, Kusadasi, Piraeus and Mykonos and includes a sail by Anzac Cove and transits of the Dardanelles.

Round trip Southampton cruises

A range of ex-Southampton cruises are available from May to December. Queen Elizabeth will operate regular ex-UK voyages while Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 offer selected departures during the year.


• 28 round trip Southampton cruises offered by all three ships
• More variety with cruises to the Mediterranean, Atlantic Islands, Western Europe, Northern Europe and Caribbean
• Two Western Mediterranean cruises
• Two Adriatic cruises
• Two Greek Islands cruises
• Six Canary Islands cruises
• Two Baltic cruises
• Five Western Europe short breaks
• Two Norway Fjords cruises
• Arctic Circle cruise
• British Isles cruise
• Iceland cruise
• Caribbean cruise
• A range of cruise durations; cruises range from three-night Western Europe Cruise Breaks to a 24-night Caribbean cruise
• Seven overnight stays in Barcelona, St Petersburg, Madeira, Reykjavik and Amsterdam
• Seven evening departures in Madeira, Bergen, Invergordon, Kusadasi and Tenerife
• Queen Elizabeth departs Southampton on her 12-night British Isles cruise on 23 June and calls at South Queensferry, Invergordon, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Greenock, Belfast, Liverpool and St Peter Port.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2016 Japan Cruise Program
Carnival Corporation & plc announced today that its Princess Cruises brand, the top North American cruise line in Japan, will offer an array of Japan voyages from Tokyo and Kobe in 2016 that circumnavigate the country, visiting the top-rated ports with two new ports of call on the island of Kyushu, along with visits to Korea, Taiwan and Russia. The voyages are designed to offer opportunities to explore the wonders of UNESCO World Heritage sites and to participate in some of Japan’s largest and most celebrated cultural festivals and special events. In addition, new Land and Sea Vacation packages will take travelers into the heart of Japanese culture in Kyoto and Tokyo.

Princess Cruises Unveils 2016 Japan Cruise ProgramThe variety of voyages offered on Diamond Princess, ranging from four to 20 nights, include the whole of Japan on Circle Japan voyages; northern Japan on Circle Hokkaido Island voyages, with a visit to Korsakov, Russia; and southern Japan on Kyushu Island voyages featuring maiden ports of call in the beautiful southern beach port of Miyazaki and the famous castle ruins of Yatushiro, and voyages to Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands. Grand Japan voyages ranging from 14- to 20- nights offer the greatest variety of ports and experiences; while four- and five-night getaway cruises provide a sampling of some of Japan’s not-to-be-missed destination highlights.

Princess Cruises’ 2016 Japan season runs from April to October, the only full season of voyages offered by a North American cruise line in Japan, and bookings for the new itineraries open to the public on April 16, 2015. More details can be found at princess.com.

“Japan is steeped in tradition and lore, with ancient sites, hallowed temples and natural wonders throughout the island chain. The ideal way to explore this fascinating country is by sea and Princess offers travelers unmatched options for discovering its many jewels,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “We visit the top-rated ports, provide local cultural entertainment and culinary experiences onboard and offer bi-lingual service to make it easy and memorable for our guests to explore all that Japan offers. We’ve been recognized as the top cruise line in Asia with the best itineraries and our 2016 voyages more than live up to this billing.”

The new Princess Cruises itineraries take guests to a wide variety of culturally significant sites listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) including some of the world’s greatest attractions such as Ancient Kyoto, Okinawa's Shurijo Castle and the majestic Shirakami Mountains from Aomori. Other bucket list jewels include the revered 7th Century Bulguska Temple in the Korean capital of Gyeong-Ju and remote historic villages in central Japan. All Hokkaido Island cruises feature the Shiretoko Peninsula, one of the world’s richest eco-systems and one of the few places in the world where multiple species of whales, dolphins and porpoises can be spotted, among many more.

Spectacular summer festivals and fireworks displays are the highlight of many summer cruises ranging from seven- to 11-night itineraries. These sailings include late evening departures from ports to allow guests time to participate in vividly colored lantern processionals, parades of giant floats, dance festivals and spectacular fireworks displays like the famous Toyohashi Fire Festival in Nagoya and the Kagoshima Summer Night Fireworks with an active volcano as the backdrop.

Guests on next year’s July 25 and August 4 voyages will experience the Nebuta Festival, Japan’s most extravagant display of brilliantly-colored floats, musicians and dancers. Sailings on August 15, 24 and September 9 of 2016 feature some of Japan’s largest and most spectacular fireworks festivals.

To further enhance the cruise line’s Japanese vacations, Princess Cruises will offer multi-day land tour package options, available for add-on with most cruises, to explore Kyoto and Tokyo. Kyoto tours will include sightseeing at Nijo Castle, the famed Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), and popular Japanese gardens. Tokyo tours explore this fascinating city before heading out to Mt. Fuji, Togendai and Lake Ashi.

While Diamond Princess features the cruise line’s signature innovations including its popular Movies Under the Stars poolside theater and The Sanctuary, an exclusive top-deck retreat, it also offers many unique features designed to enhance the Japanese cultural experience onboard including:


• Traditional Izumi Japanese Bath – the largest of its kind at sea and modeled after the popular Japanese onsen experience
• Kai Sushi restaurant – boasting made-to-order sushi and a full selection of Japanese sake
• Noodle stations – serving up a rotating selection of ramen, soba and udon noodles
• Tamagoyaki - a traditional Japanese omelet available daily for breakfast
• Unique Japanese entertainment offerings such as “rakugo” storytelling performances and origami classes
• Unparalleled luxury brand duty-free shopping

In addition, dining room menus offer a wide variety of international cuisine including Japanese options on all menus and onboard collateral items and stateroom information is available in both English and Japanese

Disney Magic to Feature "Tangled: The Musical" Stage Show
In November 2015, the endearing characters and captivating music of the animated film "Tangled" will enchant audiences once again, this time as an original stage show spectacular at sea aboard the Disney Magic—the first time the beloved Disney tale has been adapted for the stage.

"Tangled: The Musical" will immerse audiences in Rapunzel's fairytale world through lavish production numbers and spellbinding music. Three new songs created exclusively for this show by Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken and Grammy Award-winning lyricist Glenn Slater will bring the story to life onstage.

Disney Magic to Feature The show will stay true to the storyline from the hit feature film—with a few special twists to create a live staged production—featuring favorite characters like Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, the villainous Mother Gothel and Maximus the police horse.

The story follows the thrilling adventure of Rapunzel as she escapes the confines of her tower and the clutches of Mother Gothel, who wishes to shield the secret of Rapunzel's magical golden tresses and royal roots. Rapunzel strikes up an unlikely friendship with the suave, crown-stealing bandit Flynn Rider, and together they face ruffians, thugs and a budding romance on a hair-raising journey filled with classic Disney playfulness and whimsy that will delight audiences of all ages.

Acclaimed composer Alan Menken ("The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast") and lyricist Glenn Slater, the prolific pair behind the original soundtrack for "Tangled," teamed up again to adapt the score and story for the stage. Complementing the score from the film, three new songs weave a delightful combination of narrative, humor and theatrics into the performance.

In addition to new melodies, audiences will enjoy live performances of favorite songs from the movie, including "When Will My Life Begin," "Mother Knows Best," "I Have a Dream" and the Grammy Award-winning ballad, "I See the Light."

Elaborate costumes, groundbreaking puppetry and stunning set designs transform the 977-seat Walt Disney Theatre into a fanciful Bavarian kingdom, immersing audiences in Rapunzel's world and making them feel a part of her story. Disney assembled an all-star creative team to develop this extravagant production, with director Gordon Greenberg and choreographer Connor Gallagher joining Menken, Slater and a bevy of top-notch theatrical talent.

Master puppet designer Michael Curry, whose extraordinary creations are featured in Disney's Tony Award-winning musical "The Lion King" on Broadway, is breeding a brand-new pedigree of puppetry in Maximus, the rambunctious police horse whose exaggerated demeanor becomes even more hilarious with the addition of the whinnying puppet performer within. This cleverly constructed character is sure to be the "mane" attraction of every scene he steals.

Dazzling costumes created by Tony Award-winning designer Paloma Young will bring the flair and vibrancy of the animated world to life onstage in "Tangled: The Musical." The townspeople's bright hues and Rapunzel's feminine florals are perfectly balanced by the bristly browns of the rugged thugs and royal regalia of the kingdom officials, creating a sensational fusion of colors, patterns and textures.

Remarkable set designs by scenic designer Bradley Kaye (Disney's "Aladdin—A Musical Spectacular") will transport audiences to storybook locales that include Rapunzel's tower home, the outlandish Snuggly Duckling tavern, a brightly adorned kingdom town and the resplendent lakeside setting of the iconic floating lanterns scene from the film.

"Tangled: The Musical" complements the line-up of Disney Cruise Line-exclusive live entertainment performed every voyage aboard the Disney Magic, joining "Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story" and "Disney Dreams… An Enchanted Classic," which will feature a new segment from the blockbuster animated hit "Frozen" beginning in summer 2015.

"Tangled: The Musical" will premiere during the Nov. 11 four-night Bahamian sailing aboard the Disney Magic. The Disney Magic will sail four-night Bahamas and five-night Western Caribbean cruises from Miami beginning Sept. 30 through the new year.

People in the News
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced today that Bernard Aronson, a director of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. since 1993, has decided not to stand for re-election at the company's upcoming Annual Shareholders Meeting in May, citing the time commitments required of his new responsibilities. In February 2015, Aronson was named by President Obama as U.S. Special Envoy to the Colombian Peace Process.

"Serving on the Royal Caribbean board has been a privilege and a joy," said Aronson. "The culture of a company is its most valuable asset, and I know that the culture of excellence, service and 'wow' that Royal Caribbean embodies will continue under the board's leadership."

Aronson is Royal Caribbean's longest-serving outside director, and is a member of the Compensation Committee. He also serves as the Founding Partner of ACON Investments, LLC. From 1989 to 1993, Aronson served as Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs.

"Bernie has been an invaluable member of the board, and has a tremendous understanding of our company," said Richard D. Fain, Chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. "I want to thank him for the significant contributions he has made over the past 20 years. His advice and guidance will be missed and I wish him success in his new government assignment."

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.76 + 0.08%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 82.30 + 1.92%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.79 - 2.11%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 53.59 + 1.14%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Which famous French liner caught fire in April 1939 while tied up at her pier and capsized the next morning from having too much water poured onto her upper decks?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Name the two New York-based ships that were known as the "Honeymoon Ships" during the 1940's and 1950's.

Answer - Dhe liners RMS Queen of Bermuda and RMS Ocean Monarch were nicknamed the Honeymoon Ships during the 1940s and 1950s because the number of honeymooners which travelled onboard them.
courtesy of Fernando Molina, Seville, Spain.


Cruise News - March 30, 2015

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Delivery Of First Ocean Ship
Viking Ocean Cruises today announced it took delivery of Viking Star, marking the company's official arrival into the ocean cruise industry. The delivery ceremony took place on March 28 when the ship was presented at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard outside of Venice, Italy. On April 11, Viking Star will set sail from Istanbul and will make her way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened on May 17 in Bergen, Norway.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Delivery Of First Ocean Ship"This has been a remarkable journey, and I am grateful to everyone at Viking and Fincantieri who has worked tirelessly to turn our vision into reality," said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking Cruises. "With Viking Star's maiden voyage and christening now within sight, we are ready to bring our destination-focused experiences to ocean cruising."

Classified by Cruise Critic as a "small ship," the all-veranda Viking Star has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boasts 465 cabins and will accommodate 930 passengers. It is engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, so guests have an easy and efficient embarkation and debarkation. Light-filled with modern Scandinavian decor, the ship was designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships®. Viking Star is one of three ocean cruise ships on order; the remaining two ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, are currently under construction.

Viking Ocean Cruises guests will enjoy curated itineraries that are designed to best showcase the destinations that they visit, with a complimentary excursion in each port and an onboard cultural enrichment program that includes academic lecturers, local speakers and interactive demonstrations.

Carnival Corporation Enters into Strategic Partnerships to Add Nine Cruise Ships to its Fleet over a Four-Year Period Starting in 2019/Spring 2017
Carnival Corporation & plc, the world's largest travel and leisure company, today signed two strategic memorandums of agreement that will add a total of nine new cruise ships to the company's industry-leading fleet over a four-year period from 2019 - 2022. The shipbuilding agreements, which include options for additional ship builds in the coming years, are subject to several conditions, including satisfactory financing.

Carnival Corporation Enters into Strategic Partnerships to Add Nine Cruise Ships to its Fleet over a Four-Year PeriodItalian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A and German shipbuilder Meyer Werft will each build new ships based on Carnival Corporation's next-generation ship designs, which will produce the most efficient ships in the company's history. The new ships are expected to serve established cruise markets in North America and Europe, as well as newer markets, including China. Each new ship will be specifically designed and developed for the brand and guests it will serve, and support the company's overall goal of exceeding guest expectations and further elevating every aspect of the guest experience.

"We're excited to take this next step in our fleet enhancement plan with these two new agreements that are consistent with our long-term strategy of measured capacity growth over time," said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation. "Our goal as a company is to exceed the expectations of every guest on every ship every day, and these new ships will further enable us to do just that. These will be the most efficient ships we have ever built and the great guest experience will create even more excitement around cruising – helping new cruisers realize the superior vacation experience and value that cruising offers versus land-based vacations."

Fincantieri, the world's largest cruise ship building company, will develop and construct five ships at its shipyards in Monfalcone and Marghera, Italy.

"I am extremely proud on this truly memorable day for us. Today's announcement provides us with a long-term strategic prospective, and reinforces the extraordinary partnership between us and Carnival Corporation, developed over time thanks to the confidence the group has always shown in us, which we assure will be once again well placed," said Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. "This agreement reflects the exceptional business vision of the world's most important cruise operator, and our readiness and flexibility in interpreting its demands."

Bono added, "This agreement is the best reward for our hard work over all these years, and in fact, our organizational, design and production skills have allowed us to consolidate our market leadership, confirming us at the top of such an exclusive and complex industry."

Meyer Werft, a leading global shipbuilder founded in Germany in 1795, will build its four ships at its shipyards in Papenburg, Germany, and Turku, Finland. Now in its seventh generation of family ownership, Meyer Werft has become well known for constructing large, modern and sophisticated cruise ships, including 39 luxury ships the company has built for its customers around the world.

Bernard Meyer, managing partner of Meyer Werft, said, "We are very happy and honored that Carnival Corporation trusts our strength to bring this ambitious newbuilding program to life in Turku and Papenburg."

As part of each company's long-term strategic partnership with Carnival Corporation, additional new ship orders are being explored over the coming decade.

Additional information on Carnival Corporation's cruise ship design, and which of the company's nine leading global brands will add these next-generation vessels to their fleets will be made available at a later date.

Carnival Corporation's fleet enhancement strategy will add two new ships to its fleet in 2015 and remove four ships from the fleet. P&O Cruises UK officially launched Britannia, the largest ship ever designed exclusively for Britain, in a majestic naming ceremony earlier this month. Later this year, the AIDA Cruises fleet will welcome AIDAprima, which is expected to be one of the most technically advanced and sustainable cruise ships ever built.

In addition to these new ships, Carnival Corporation continues to enhance its guest experience on existing ships. The overall fleet enhancement strategy combines new ship builds with an ongoing program to further elevate guest experience across the company's existing fleet and nine brands.

Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam to Homeport at Port Everglades for Winter 2016/Spring 2017
Following its inaugural Europe season in 2016, Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam will homeport at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The ship will sail a series of Caribbean voyages and one cruise to the Bahamas from November 2016 through March 2017. Koningsdam's Caribbean itineraries will be available for booking in late spring.

Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam to Homeport at Port Everglades for Winter 2016/Spring 2017The seven-day cruises visit popular ports in the region, while the longer nine-, 10- and 11-day itineraries provide more time for exploring and include a diverse array of islands with exciting, off-the-beaten-path calls. A four-day cruise to the Bahamas kicks off the Caribbean season. All voyages are roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale.

"We are excited to sail Holland America Line's newest ship from Port Everglades on the most varied and robust Caribbean itineraries of any of our ships," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "The Caribbean remains among the most popular cruise destinations in the world, and by having itineraries that range from four to 11 days guests will be able to enjoy a vacation that fits their schedule."

Four-day Bahamas Cruise - Koningsdam begins its inaugural season in the Caribbean with a four-day cruise to the Bahamas departing Nov. 9, 2016. Following an overnight in Fort Lauderdale, the ship calls at Nassau followed by Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line's award-winning private island. The voyage is the perfect way to sample Holland America Line's new Pinnacle-class ship.

Seven-day Caribbean Cruises & Holiday Sailing - Two different seven-day itineraries provide an ideal getaway in winter, when the balmy breezes of the Caribbean beckon. The first itinerary sails Jan. 8 and 29 and Feb. 12, 2017, calling at Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Half Moon Cay. The second itinerary departs Jan. 15 and Feb. 5, 2017, and visits Half Moon Cay; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; and Key West, Fla. The two itineraries can be combined to create a nonrepeating 14-day Caribbean Collectors' Voyage.

For the holidays, the Dec. 23, 2016, departure falls over Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, making it the most festive of voyages. The seven-day cruise will visit Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay.

Nine-day Caribbean Cruises Include a New Year's Option - Guests looking for a slightly longer Caribbean vacation can embark Dec. 14, 2016, for a nine-day voyage that showcases six popular ports. The ship calls at Half Moon Cay; Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts; San Juan; and Grand Turk.

Another nine-day voyage departing Dec. 30 rings in the New Year with fun, sun, sand and surf. The ship will call at Falmouth, Jamaica; Half Moon Cay; Grand Turk; Georgetown, Cayman Islands; Cozumel and Key West.

10-day Caribbean Cruises Feature Southern Caribbean - From the turquoise waters of the Dominican Republic to the powdery beaches of the ABC Islands, Koningsdam's 10-day itinerary highlights some of the most beautiful ports in the region. Departing Nov. 13 and Dec. 4, 2015, and Feb. 19 and March 12, 2016, the cruises call at Half Moon Cay; Grand Turk; the exclusive cruise port of Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Willemstand, Curacao; and Oranjestad, Aruba.

11-day Caribbean Cruises Offer Blend of Several Ports - The eastern Caribbean takes center stage on the 11-day voyages that depart Nov. 23, 2016, and March 1 and 22, 2017. Koningsdam will visit the ports of Philipsburg; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; Fort-de-France, Martinique; Basseterre; St. Thomas; and Half Moon Cay. Guests aboard also will enjoy scenic cruising in Soufriere Bay and past the famed Mount Pelee volcano.

Carnival Pride Returns to Port of Baltimore
Carnival Cruise Line returned to the Port of Baltimore and launched a year-round cruise program yesterday when the Carnival Pride departed on a seven-day cruise to the Bahamas from the Cruise Maryland Terminal.

Carnival Pride's year-round schedule from Baltimore encompasses a wide range of departures, from five-day Bermuda cruises to seven- to 14-day voyages visiting top destinations in the Caribbean, The Bahamas and Florida.

Carnival Pride Returns to Port of Baltimore"We are thrilled to be returning to the Port of Baltimore which is such a fantastic cruise departure point for people in the mid-Atlantic states, the Northeast and beyond," said Christine Duffy, Carnival president. "Carnival Pride has just undergone a massive enhancement program that added a variety of great new features which, when combined with the wide range of itinerary options, makes the ship an excellent vacation choice for consumers and a great selling opportunity for our valued travel agent partners," she added.

"Maryland values our long-standing relationship with Carnival and we are delighted to welcome the Carnival Pride back to her home port at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore," said Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn. "Governor Hogan is focused on building Maryland's reputation as a place that's open for business, and today we are pleased that the Carnival Pride is once again open for business in Baltimore."

Carnival Pride recently underwent an extensive multi-million-dollar dry dock that added a variety of the line's Fun Ship 2.0 innovations, including new dining venues such as Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and Bonsai Sushi, exciting bar concepts like Alchemy Bar, RedFrog Pub and the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, as well as new entertainment choices like Hasbro, The Game Show; Seuss at Sea and Playlist Productions. A massive WaterWorks water park featuring Green Thunder, the fastest and steepest waterslide at sea, was added, as well.

Carnival Pride's five-day Bermuda sailings feature two days and one night at King's Wharf with two fun days at sea. Six-day Bahamas cruises call at the popular ports of Nassau and Freeport, while the seven-day Bahamas itinerary also includes a call at Port Canaveral, Fla., with easy access to Orlando's attractions.

Seven- and eight-day eastern Caribbean cruises feature Grand Turk, the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, and Freeport. Eight-day Bahamas sailings visit Charleston, S.C.; Port Canaveral and Nassau.

For those who prefer more immersive, longer length cruises, Carnival Pride offers two Carnival Journeys adventures departing from Baltimore. An 11-day Carnival Journeys voyage departs Baltimore Jan. 17, 2016, calling at Grand Turk, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, and St. Croix, ending in San Juan Jan. 28, 2016.

There is also a 14-day Carnival Journeys voyage, operating roundtrip from Baltimore March 13-27, 2016, and featuring Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Lucia, Martinique, Antigua and St. Maarten.

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports Significantly Higher First Quarter Earnings
Carnival Corporation & plc announced non-GAAP net income of $159 million, or $0.20 diluted EPS, for the first quarter of 2015 compared to non-GAAP net loss for the first quarter of 2014 of $3 million, or $0.00 per share. For the first quarter of 2015, U.S. GAAP net income, which included unrealized losses on fuel derivatives of $112 million, was $49 million, or $0.06 diluted earnings per share. For the first quarter of 2014, U.S. GAAP net loss was $20 million, or $0.03 diluted loss per share. Revenues for the first quarter of 2015 were $3.5 billion compared to $3.6 billion in the prior year.

Carnival Corporation & plc Reports Significantly Higher First Quarter EarningsCarnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, "The year is off to a strong start achieving significantly higher earnings than the prior year and our previous guidance. Our onboard revenue initiatives drove particularly strong improvement in the first quarter with onboard yields more than 8 percent higher than prior year (constant dollar)." Donald also noted that the Carnival Cruise Line brand continued to outperform, achieving significant revenue yield growth and remains on track for a strong year. Additionally, Costa's Asia operations achieved double-digit revenue yield growth, affirming the pent-up demand in the region and building confidence in the long-term potential for growth.

Key metrics for the first quarter 2015 compared to first quarter 2014 were as follows:
• On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") increased 2.0 percent for 1Q 2015, which was better than the company's
• December guidance of flat to up 1 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 3.1 percent in current dollars due to changes in currency exchange rates.
• Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 2.4 percent in constant dollars primarily due to higher dry-dock costs and advertising expenses. Costs were lower than December guidance, up 5.5 to 6.5 percent, substantially all due to the timing of expenses between quarters. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars declined 9.6 percent due to changes in fuel prices and currency exchange rates.
• Fuel prices declined 38 percent to $406 per metric ton for 1Q 2015 from $654 per metric ton in 1Q 2014.
• Fuel consumption per ALBD decreased 3.7 percent in 1Q 2015 compared to the prior year.
• Changes in currency exchange rates reduced earnings by $0.06 per share (constant currency).

2015 Outlook

At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the remainder of 2015 are ahead of the prior year at higher prices. Since January, booking volumes for the remainder of the year are running in line with last year's historically high levels at higher prices.

Donald noted, "We are experiencing an ongoing improvement in underlying fundamentals based on our successful initiatives to drive demand. Our efforts to further elevate our guest experience are clearly resonating with consumers and, notably, improving the frequency and retention of our loyal guests." Donald added, "We are also seeing results from our ongoing public relations efforts and creative marketing campaign designed to attract new to cruise. Our multifaceted campaign built around the Super Bowl garnered 5 billion media impressions before the commercial aired and has exceeded 10 billion impressions to date." Donald also noted that the recent delivery of Britannia, the largest cruise ship built for Britain and christened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, drew international acclaim and showcased cruising on a global scale.

Based on current booking strength, Carnival said that it expects full year 2015 net revenue yields to increase 3 to 4 percent on a constant currency basis, which excludes translation and transactional currency impacts, compared to the prior year. This is one full point better than December guidance on a constant currency basis. On a constant dollar basis, which does not exclude the unfavorable transactional impact of currency, Carnival said that it still expects yields to be approximately 2 percent higher than the prior year. Carnival said that it expects net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for full year 2015 to be up 2 to 3 percent compared to the prior year on a constant dollar basis, which is better than December guidance of up 3 percent, due primarily to the favorable transactional currency impact.

Since December, unfavorable changes in currency exchange rates (constant currency) have reduced full year 2015 earnings expectations by $219 million, or $0.28 per share. However, this impact has been significantly offset by the improvement in the company's operating performance, resulting in just a $0.05 reduction to the midpoint of December guidance.

Taking the above factors into consideration, Carnival said that it forecasts full year 2015 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $2.30 to $2.50, compared to 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings of $1.93 per share.

Looking forward, Donald stated, "Consistent with many global companies, the strengthening of the U.S. dollar has hampered our full year earnings expectations, masking the 3 to 4 percent (constant currency) yield increase our collective brands are expecting to achieve. Our successful initiatives to drive both ticket and onboard revenue yields have improved our financial performance and we remain on track toward our goal of achieving double-digit return on invested capital in the next three to four years."

Second Quarter 2015 Outlook

Second quarter constant dollar net revenue yields are expected to increase 2 to 3 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the second quarter are expected to be up 6.5 to 7.5 percent on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year. The increase is driven by higher annual dry-dock costs primarily all of which will be incurred in the second quarter. Changes in fuel prices net of fuel derivatives and currency exchange rates (constant currency) are expected to benefit second quarter earnings by $74 million compared to the prior year, or $0.09 per share.

Based on the above factors, Carnival said that it expects non-GAAP diluted earnings for the second quarter 2015 to be in the range of $0.11 to $0.15 per share versus 2014 non-GAAP earnings of $0.09 per share.

Princess and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Take The Sound of Music Out to Sea
The seas are coming alive with the sound of music.

Beginning mid-April, Princess Cruises will partner with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to screen the biggest movie musical of all time, The Sound of Music, onboard all 18 of its cruise ships and feature sing-a-longs, trivia games, and other movie-themed experiences throughout the year. The offerings celebrate the 50th anniversaries of both the cruise line and the musical and are part of a year-long campaign to honor the classic film.

Princess and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Take The Sound of Music Out to SeaIn addition, Princess Cruises is offering movie fans chances to win a free cruise and a $500 onboard gift card every month through December 2015. More details about the themed onboard experiences and cruise giveaways are available at www.princesscruises.com/SoundofMusic.

A phenomenon upon its debut in 1965, The Sound of Music won five Academy Awards®, including "Best Picture" and continues to inspire audiences around the world with unforgettable songs including "Do-Re-Mi," "My Favorite Things," "Climb Every Mountain," and "The Sound of Music." Starring Oscar® winners Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, the film follows Maria (Andrews), the warm-hearted young woman who brings joy and music to Captain von Trapp (Plummer) and his seven children.

"The Sound of Music isn't just a classic film - watching the movie together is a classic family activity. In a year in which both Princess Cruises and The Sound of Music mark their golden anniversaries, this is truly a fun and memorable way to join in the celebrations," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president.

The Sound of Music will be shown once on every sailing throughout 2015 on Princess Cruises giant Movies Under the Stars top deck screens, with the sing-a-long version featured in the Princess Theater. Song birds can meet and rehearse for a special The Sound of Music edition of Princess Pop Choir and a themed Trivia Challenge will test fans' movie knowledge.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 47.72 + 3.60%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 80.75 + 3.05%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.85 + 3.26%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 53.28 + 1.24%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
Name the two New York-based ships that were known as the "Honeymoon Ships" during the 1940's and 1950's.

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
During the Queen Mary's last voyage in 1967, a 14,559 mile journey across the Atlantic and around South America, she carried two very large pieces of unusual cargo on her main deck - what were they?

Answer - During RMS Queen Mary's last cruise, she carried two red London buses at aft main deck. Some passengers told to their friends that they had made a voyage round Cape Horn in a London Bus.
courtesy of Jo Fermoga.


Cruise News - March 23, 2015

Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam to Showcase 270-Degree Panoramic LED Screens
On Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam, entertainment meets innovation with a new main theater design that surrounds the audience with a 270-degree LED screen. Breaking from the line's traditionally styled theaters, The World Stage is a flexible space that can have multiple stage configurations, ranging from in-the-round to the more conventional proscenium staging. The theater will initially host five new productions performed in repertory by a cast sourced from around the world.

Holland America Line's new ms Koningsdam to Showcase 270-Degree Panoramic LED ScreensAt two stories high and 250 feet long, the high-definition LED screens will make The World Stage a trend-setting theater at sea capable of showcasing an exciting array of performances and productions. Enhanced by state-of-the-art lighting, projection and sound systems, the screens enable the environment of The World Stage to change throughout the day to present anything the designers can imagine. For example, the room can evolve effortlessly from an Italian palazzo for a concert performance to an imaginary world for innovative production numbers.

"The World Stage on Koningsdam will enable us to debut new entertainment concepts to delight our guests with shows they've never seen before," said Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line. "Having the flexibility to configure the room into many different and vibrant settings enables us to set new heights for cruise entertainment in this extraordinary theater at sea."

Currently under construction at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard in Italy, Koningsdam represents a new Pinnacle Class of ship for Holland America Line. When it sets sail on its Premier Voyage April 8, 2016, the vessel will debut several innovative concepts and new public venues while still featuring popular amenities guests associate with Holland America Line.

Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy fine dining in several alternative restaurants including Sel de Mer, a new French seafood brasserie; a new immersive farm-to-table dinner experience in the Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine; a re-designed casual Lido Market with themed serving stations; a stunning main dining room; and favorites such as Pinnacle Grill, Canaletto Italian restaurant and pan-Asian Tamarind. The ship also will feature Holland America Line's first purpose-built staterooms for families as well as single staterooms among its 1,331 guest accommodations.

Entertainment is taken to a new level with the energetic Music Walk area featuring all genres of music showcased in venues including Lincoln Center Stage performing chamber music nightly; Billboard Onboard where live musicians rock the crowd with chart-topping hits; and the popular B.B. King's Blues Club in the Queen's Lounge bringing the best of Memphis music to sea. World Stage brings 270-degree LED projection to the main showroom, enabling new concepts for showtime performances and immersing the audience in a panorama of sight and sound.

Liberty of the Seas Passenger Goes Overboard
A 43 year-old Liberty of the Seas passenger was reported missing Sunday night at 9:45 p.m. and later discovered to have gone overboard from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship as it was returning to port.

Liberty of the Seas Passenger Goes OverboardA fellow passenger alerted crew members that he had seen a man go overboard on the final night of the 4-day Western Caribbean cruise from Port Everglades. According to the cruise line, surveillance video captured the man - Frank Slippo - climbing over the railing and going overboard from deck 12 while the ship was sailing 20 miles south of Marathon, Florida.

Once notified, the captain immediately turned the ship around to return to the location where he was reported missing and a search initiated.

The captain also alerted the U.S. Coast Guard which dispatched two MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Miami and Clearwater. The USCG Cutter Cutter Charles Sexton was also dispatched to assist in the search and two Canadian Coast Guard ships that were already in the area participated. Once the Coast Guard assets were in place, Liberty of the Seas was released and allowed to continue on to Ft. Lauderdale.

The Coast Guard searched by air and sea an area of 5,000 nautical square miles over a 57-hour period. The Coast Guard called off the search Wednesday evening.

Royal Caribbean Deploying Ovation of the Seas To China
Furthering the cruise line’s commitment to growing the China vacation market, Royal Caribbean International today announced that Tianjin, China, will be the new home for its third Quantum-class ship, Ovation of the Seas. The news was given today by Royal Caribbean’s President and CEO, Michael Bayley, in a Beijing press conference of media, travel agents and officials. Launching in April 2016, Ovation of the Seas will be the cruise line’s fifth cruise ship based in the region.

“Cruising has become very popular for Chinese consumers and Royal Caribbean is already capturing their imaginations with our industry-leading cruise ships,” said Bayley. “We are furthering our commitment by bringing two of the world’s newest and most advanced Quantum-class cruise ships to the region. In addition, we are significantly expanding our investment in the training and employment of Chinese talent so they can join us in delivering our amazing and distinctive vacations to Chinese travelers.”

Royal Caribbean Deploying Ovation of the Seas To ChinaCurrently under construction, Ovation of the Seas will join Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas in the China seas. The five ships will comprise the largest fleet deployment for any cruise brand in China, homeporting in four metropolitan Chinese cities – Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Xiamen – and primarily sailing three- to 12-night itineraries to destinations in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. Royal Caribbean’s summer 2016 Asia adventures will open for booking in August 2015.

In addition to committing ships to the region, Royal Caribbean is investing in people shoreside. The cruise line created a curriculum with the Tianjin Maritime College in August 2014 in order to attract, train and employ more Chinese talent. In the 13,000 sq. ft. school, students are instructed in the skills needed for a successful culinary or restaurant service career with Royal Caribbean. The cruise line has already hired more than 3,000 graduates and hopes to expand the program to accept more students and work with colleges in other Chinese cities.

Royal Caribbean also is exploring new ways to engage the Chinese economy and help create more Chinese jobs. The cruise line is investigating potential Chinese drydock facilities to revitalize Legend of the Seas as early as 2018; logistics centers in China to supply its ships deployed in the region; and an inbound-tourism business model to bring thousands of North American vacationers to experience China.

Once launched, Ovation of the Seas’ maiden sailings will include a 52-night Global Odyssey from Southampton, U.K. to Tianjin. Vacationers can be among the first to experience the new ship on the 2016 Ovation Global Odyssey, which will open for sale on Thursday, March 26, 2015. Five itineraries will take guests to some of the world’s most iconic cities:
• A seven-night England to Barcelona cruise, departing May 3, 2016 from Southampton
• 16-night Barcelona to Dubai cruise, via the Suez Canal, departing May 10
• 14-night India and Southeast Asia cruise, departing May 26 from Dubai to Singapore
• Three-night Malaysia cruise, departing June 9 on a roundtrip sailing from Singapore
• And 12-night Exotic Asia cruise, from Singapore to Tianjin.

Royal Caribbean is the leading and the most successful cruise line in China, shown by business growth, consumer and trade preference, and industry and consumer recognitions and awards. For its inaugural season, Ovation of the Seas will homeport in Tianjin – approximately 70 miles southeast of Beijing, while Quantum of the Seas will complete a full year of sailings from Shanghai. Mariner of the Seas will join Quantum of the Seas in Shanghai, while Voyager of the Seas will sail regularly from Hong Kong’s new Kai Tak Cruise Port. In addition to Japan and Korea itineraries, Voyager of the Seas will offer four- and five-night Taiwan and Vietnam cruises. For its part, Legend of the Seas will offer a set of sailings from Tianjin and then reposition to its new homeport of Xiamen for the remainder of the season.

“While China gets the newest Quantum Class, North America is getting the newest Oasis Class, Harmony of the Seas. There will be three Oasis-class ships sailing from two Florida ports starting in 2016, in addition to Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, giving vacationers plenty of options for a truly memorable Royal Caribbean cruise.” added Bayley.

Norwegian Star Shines with New Dining, Entertainment Venues as Ship Readies for Europe Season
Norwegian Star Shines with New Dining, Entertainment Venues as Ship Readies for Europe Season Norwegian Star re-enters service with new 5 o'Clock Somewhere Bar, additional complimentary dining venue O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill and now complimentary Ginza Asian restaurant

Norwegian Cruise Line welcomed Norwegian Star back into service on March 17, 2015, following a two-week dry dock where the ship received numerous enhancements and new dining and entertainment venues as she readies for her busy summer season sailing the Baltic Capitals and Norwegian fjords from Copenhagen.

Norwegian Star Shines with New Dining, Entertainment Venues as Ship Readies for Europe SeasonAs a part of Norwegian Cruise Line's NEXT Program, bringing new enhancements and experiences to the cruise industry's youngest fleet*, Norwegian Star follows Norwegian Jewel as the third ship in the Norwegian fleet to receive updates since the program launched in 2014. Highlights of the ship's new features include two complimentary dining outlets, enhanced offerings in the popular Ginza Asian restaurant and Norwegian's first Five o'Clock Somewhere Bar.

"Our guests can dine like nowhere else at sea with Norwegian's Freestyle Dining and these exciting new venues on Norwegian Star make it even easier, more exciting and more fun for guests to enjoy the freedom and flexibility that only a Norwegian cruise can offer," said Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.

Parrotheads and patrons looking to escape and unwind can enjoy the fleet's first Five o'Clock Somewhere Bar, in an exclusive partnership with Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville®. The newest watering hole will serve up signature margaritas and "boat drinks" such as the "Who's to Blame® Margarita," ice cold LandShark Lagers and more, coupled with nightly live musical performances.

Norwegian Star's popular guest favorite Asian fusion restaurant, Ginza, can now be enjoyed on a complimentary basis, as the previous $15 cover charge has been eliminated. In addition to a full complimentary menu that now includes delicious dishes from a dedicated Noodle Bar such as traditional Chinese noodles, wok-fried specialties, and dim sum favorites, Ginza Asian Restaurant will now also feature exciting new à la carte offerings such as Japanese Hot Rock Ishiyaki for a nominal fee and a sushi menu developed by expert Sushi Chef Yuki Ieto. The new mouth-watering sushi and sashimi pieces such as the Sashimi Hamachi Poblano, Ten Shades of Grey Roll and more will be served at the restaurant's sushi bar or guests can also choose from four specialty rolls directly from a moving sushi belt, a first for the cruise industry.

Norwegian Star has also been retrofitted with the popular O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill, a 24-hour complimentary restaurant that serves up local traditional pub fare in a friendly neighborhood-pub setting. In addition, the ship's Moderno Churrascaria, the Brazilian-style steakhouse, was relocated to a more intimate setting on Deck 13 and Sugarcane Mojito Bar, first introduced on Norwegian Getaway, was added adjacent to the new restaurant.

A number of additional guest area enhancements included: updates to the Casino and Photo Gallery, new carpets and flooring throughout guest areas, window replacements, upgrades in galley areas and updates to the pool deck. Norwegian's innovative digital signage, first introduced on Norwegian Breakaway, has also been added to the ship. The interactive touch screen signs allow guests to order specialty items, get directions and reserve dining and shore excursions simply with a scan of their stateroom key, providing even more freedom and flexibility for guests to create their ideal vacation experience.

Technical modernizations also took place during the dry dock. The ship received an Azipod hydrodynamic upgrade and state-of-the-art silicone paint on the hull, in order to further improve fuel efficiency. Additional significant technical and safety updates include: lifeboat and tender boat release systems upgrade; thrusters and stabilizer maintenance; and ballast and bilge piping replacement.

Norwegian Star will spend her summer season sailing from Copenhagen with a number of seven to 14-day itineraries through the Baltic Capitals and Norwegian fjords. Norwegian Star's nine-day sailing through the Baltic Capitals will feature culture-rich exotic ports of call including Berlin, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; and Stockholm, Sweden.

Disney Cruise Line to Sail First British Isles Itinerary in 2016
In 2016, Disney Cruise Line is sailing its first British Isles itinerary, visiting Scotland, England, Ireland and France. Throughout the summer of 2016, Disney Cruise Line also will return to Norway, Iceland and ports of call in more than 15 European countries.

In addition to the tour of Europe with limited engagements in the Baltic, Norwegian Fjords, Iceland, British Isles, Greek Isles and the Mediterranean, Disney Cruise Line will revisit favorite destinations elsewhere around the globe including Alaska, the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

Disney Cruise Line to Sail First British Isles Itinerary in 2016New British Isles - On June 5, 2016, Disney Cruise Line will sail from Dover, England on its very first British Isles itinerary. The 12-night cruise on the Disney Magic will sail to Invergordon, Kirkwall and Greenock (Glasgow), Scotland; Newcastle and Liverpool, England; Dublin, Ireland; Le Havre (Paris), France; and Guernsey; one of the Channel Islands. All of these, except Kirkwall, are first-time ports of call for Disney Cruise Line.

On this itinerary, guests can explore the majestic beauty of Scotland, experience Highland culture, sample traditional cuisine and spirits, and discover the country's iconic castles. Elsewhere on the itinerary, guests will experience the merry, cosmopolitan city of Dublin, the culturally rich and romantic Paris, the birthplace of the Beatles and the British Invasion in Liverpool, and the charming countryside of Guernsey.

New Iceland and Norway - Disney Cruise Line guests can explore the natural wonders of Iceland with two new 12-night Disney Magic sailings. Each itinerary includes two days in Reykjavik and a stop in Akureyri, Iceland; Bergen, Norway; and Kirkwall, Scotland. Departing from Dover, England and concluding in Copenhagen, Denmark, the June 17 cruise also visits Stavanger, Norway and Newcastle, England. The July 13 cruise departing from Copenhagen, Denmark and concluding in Dover, England also visits Oslo and Kristiansand, Norway and Invergordon, Scotland.

On this itinerary, three days in Iceland provides time to explore the country's rich natural wonders such as volcanoes, lava fields, glaciers and thermal springs. In Norway, guests are immersed in the splendor and charm of the country with exciting ports steeped in Viking history.

New Norwegian Fjords from Dover - For the first time, Disney Cruise Line will sail from Dover, England on a seven-night cruise to the majestic Norwegian fjords. Departing on May 29, the Disney Magic will visit Stavanger, Alesund, Geiranger and Bergen, Norway.

In Norway, Disney Cruise Line guests will discover breathtaking natural wonders such as magnificent mountain ranges, massive glaciers and majestic fjords. The enchanting Scandinavian culture of the region comes to life through local attractions, stunning architecture, storybook villages and historic city centers.

More Summer 2016 Itineraries - During the summer of 2016, the Disney Magic will return to favorite destinations in northern Europe, the Greek Isles and the Mediterranean with a variety of seven-night and longer sailings.

From May through August 2016, the Disney Wonder will return to Alaska, sailing from Vancouver, Canada to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.

In 2016, the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy will sail from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and Caribbean on a variety of itineraries. All of these cruises include a stop at Disney's private island, Castaway Cay.

Viking River Cruises Expands Fleet With 12 New Ships
Marking another year of impressive growth, Viking River Cruises (www.vikingrivercruises.com) yesterday welcomed the newest additions to its fleet of river cruise vessels at a simultaneous christening ceremony in Amsterdam and Rostock, Germany. The company christened a total of 12 new river vessels, including 10 of its award-winning Viking Longships and two custom vessels for the Elbe River. This event officially brings Viking's total river fleet size to 60 and comes just one year after the company set a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for the most new ships launched in a single day.

Viking River Cruises Expands Fleet With 12 New ShipsAll 10 of the new Viking Longships will be deployed on Viking's itineraries in Europe, including three of the most popular itineraries – Grand European Tour, Romantic Danube and Rhine Getaway. Also, as a result of high consumer demand for the Elegant Elbe itinerary, the two new specially designed ships will double the company's capacity on the Elbe River for 2015.

"We are immensely proud of the response to our new ships that we continue to receive from guests and industry experts," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "It is always important that we recognize those who have helped us achieve success, and this year I am especially pleased to honor fellow Vikings as godmothers of our newest river vessels." Viking Godmothers - Staying true to the naval tradition, Viking named 12 of its longest-serving employees as ceremonial godmothers for the new ships. With representation from Viking's onboard operations team, as well as from the operational headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, the corporate headquarters in Los Angeles and the London office, each godmother represents a department that has contributed to the consistently high guest satisfaction ratings and the growth and success of the company. The full list of godmothers includes:
• Donora Anderson, Senior Director of Operations and godmother of Viking Skirnir
• Clare Armitage, Senior Operations Executive and godmother of Viking Eir
• Sinemie Bakker, Program Director and godmother of Viking Astrild
• Henrieta Balisova, Program Director and godmother of Viking Vili
• Adriana Filkaszova, Receptionist and godmother of Viking Beyla
• Jana Hudakova, Chief Receptionist and godmother of Viking Mimir
• Miriam Kajuchova, Housekeeper and godmother of Viking Ve
• Karoline Landa, Controller & Hotel Manager and godmother of Viking Lofn
• Kornelia Pfeiffenberger, Hotel Manager and godmother of Viking Vidar
• Faye Pirie, Specialist Cruise Consultant and godmother of Viking Modi
• Julie Rosoff, Senior Director of Marketing Services and godmother of Viking Mani
• Verona Thiele, Concierge and godmother of Viking Gefjon

Since debuting in 2012, Viking Longships have amassed a long list of prestigious awards. They topped Condé Nast Traveler's annual readers' Cruise Poll for best river cruise ships – with Viking Odin specifically being named the #1 top-ranking river cruise ship – and the entire class of vessels was named "Best New River Ships" in Cruise Critic's® Editors' Picks Awards.

Viking Longships integrate a patented corridor design and cutting-edge technology with comfortable amenities that reflect guest preferences and current travel trends. These features include a revolutionary all-weather indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace that reinvents the onboard lounge experience by bringing the panoramic outdoor river scenery indoors with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors and allows guests to enjoy the views and dine al fresco. Accommodating 190 passengers in 95 staterooms, Viking Longships have a patented layout that allows for two Explorer Suites – the largest river cruise suites in Europe – as well as seven two-room Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom; 39 Veranda Staterooms with full-size verandas; and 22 French Balcony Staterooms. Additionally, all Longships have sustainability upgrades, such as onboard solar panels and organic herb gardens, and energy-efficient hybrid engines that also reduce vibrations for a remarkably smooth ride.

Hosting 98 guests in 49 staterooms, sister ships Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla will be the newest and most modern ships sailing the Elbe River. Smaller than Viking Longships, with customized hulls and engines specially designed to navigate this unique river, these ships tout many of the same popular features – including an Aquavit Terrace, a wide variety of stateroom choices, hotel-style beds, energy-efficient hybrid engines, onboard solar panels and an organic herb garden, as well as Viking's signature Scandinavian design aesthetic.

The expansion of Viking's fleet comes as a response to increased traveler demand for destination-focused cruises, and there is still an opportunity to sail in 2015. Guests interested in current special savings discounts for 2015 departures and early pricing promotions for 2016 departures should visit the promotions page located on www.vikingrivercruises.com.

In addition to the new Viking Longships and new vessels designed for the Elbe River, the company's first ocean ship, the 930-passenger Viking Star, is currently under construction and will set sail with its first passengers on April 11, 2015.

Stock Watch
The following are the latest closing prices for selected cruise line stocks.

Company Today's Closing Price Change (since last week)
Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE:CCL) 46.06 - 0.52%
Royal Caribbean Cruises (NYSE:RCL) 78.36 - 0.87%
Star Cruises (HKSE:0678.HK) 2.76 - 3.16%
Norwegian Cruise Line (Nasdq: NCLH) 52.63 + 2.37%

Cruise News Trivia Question:
During the Queen Mary's last voyage in 1967, a 14,559 mile journey across the Atlantic and around South America, she carried two very large pieces of unusual cargo on her main deck - what were they?

Answer - Will be published in next week's column along with the name of the first person to submit the correct answer. Send your answer to cruise2014 at travelpage.com

Last Week's Question
Here's another Photo Cruise Trivia - This picture was taken from a dinner menu cover from a ship I sailed on in 1970. Name the ship or her sister.


Click Here for a larger version of the picture.

Answer - The ship in the postcard is the SS Santa Rosa of 1958, owned by the Grace Line. This liner was later rebuilt and renamed as The Emerald for Thomson Cruises. Until 2012, she was laid up at Alang breaking yards. Santa Rosa had a sister ship called the Santa Paula.
courtesy of Fernando Molina, Seville, Spain.

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